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:
Bisexual Resource Center
Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
University of California, San Francisco,
Lesbian Health Research Center
Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists
Mautner Project, the National Lesbian Health Organization
Telephone: 1-866-MAUTNER (1-866-628-8637)
American Association of Tissue Banks
For legal information:
National Center for Lesbian Rights
American Civil Liberties Union Lesbian and Gay Rights Project
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.