Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education website.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Health Care for Lesbians and Bisexual Women


Am Fam Physician. 2006 Jul 15;74(2):287-288.

  See related article on primary care for lesbians and bisexual women.

Why should I talk to my doctor about my sexual orientation?

For you to get the best care and advice, you and your doctor should be able to talk openly. For example, if your doctor does not know about your life partner, your doctor cannot consult your loved one in a medical emergency. If your doctor does not know your sexual practices, you may not get the tests that you need. For some diseases, it is important to treat or vaccinate people who have close contact with you. The more your doctor knows about you, your family, and your community, the better care your doctor can give.

What types of things should I tell my doctor?

You should tell your doctor:

  • What words you want your doctor and others to use to describe your sexual orientation and your partner

  • Who you live with

  • Who you depend on or who depends on you for housing, shelter, insurance, and medical care

  • Who you want to make health care decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself

  • What your legal relationship is with your partner, children, father of your children, or sperm donor

  • If you have a power of attorney for health care or an advance directive

  • What would happen to you and your loved ones if you separated from your partner, lost your job, moved, had serious medical problems, became disabled, retired, or died

  • If you have sex (oral, anal, or vaginal) with men, women, or both

  • How many sexual partners you have had

  • If you need birth control

  • If you need information on protecting yourself from sexually transmitted diseases

  • If you’re having problems because of your sexual orientation (such as job discrimination, family problems, or feeling bad)

  • If you have experienced domestic violence or a hate crime

  • If you have an addiction

Where can I get more information?

For health information:

Bisexual Resource Center

Web site:


Web site:

Gay and Lesbian Medical Association

Telephone: 1-415-255-4547

Web site:

University of California, San Francisco,

Lesbian Health Research Center

Telephone: 1-415-502-5209

Web site:

Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists

Telephone: 1-215-222-2800

Web site:

Mautner Project, the National Lesbian Health Organization

Telephone: 1-866-MAUTNER (1-866-628-8637)

Web site:

American Association of Tissue Banks

Telephone: 1-703-827-9582

Web site:

For legal information:

National Center for Lesbian Rights

Telephone: 1-415-392-6257

Web site:

American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian and Gay Rights Project

Telephone: 1-212-549-2627

Web site:

Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.

Telephone: 1-212-809-8585

Web site:

This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.


Copyright © 2006 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

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