Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

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Am Fam Physician. 2006;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:

For legal information:

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