Items in AFP with MESH term: Bisexuality
ABSTRACT: For the most part, lesbians and bisexual women face the same health issues as heterosexual women, but they often have difficulty accessing appropriate care. Physicians can improve care for lesbians and bisexual women by acknowledging the potential barriers to care (e.g., hesitancy of physicians to inquire about sexual orientation and of patients to disclose their sexual behavior) and working to create a therapeutic physician-patient relationship. Taking an inclusive and nonjudgmental history and being aware of the range of health-related behaviors and medicolegal issues pertinent to these patients enables physicians to perform relevant screening tests and make appropriate referrals. Some recommendations, such as those for screening for cervical cancer and intimate partner violence, should not be altered for lesbians and bisexual women. Considerations unique to lesbians and bisexual women concern fertility and medico-legal issues to protect familial relationships during life changes and illness. The risks of suicidal ideation, self-harm, and depression may be higher in lesbians and bisexual women, especially those who are not open about their sexual orientation, are not in satisfying relationships, or lack social support. Because of increased rates of nulliparity, the risks of conditions such as breast and ovarian cancers also may be higher. The comparative rates of alcohol and drug use are controversial. Smoking and obesity rates are higher in lesbians and bisexual women, but there is no evidence of an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.