Lesbian Health Concerns: Often Invisible
When we talk about the health care challenges facing the LGBTQ+ community, the specific concerns of lesbians are often overlooked. Not only do lesbian members of our community face the same obstacles to high-quality care that all women do, and that all LGBTQ+ people do, but there are more specific issues that are directly relevant to our lesbian friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. What are some of the specific health disparities that impact lesbians?
-Lesbian women suffer from higher rates of breast cancer and cervical cancer, and have worse long-term outcomes than the rest of the population.
-Lesbian women are more likely to smoke than the rest of the population.
-Lesbian women are more likely than the rest of the population to suffer from mental illnesses, particularly those related to trauma, and major depressive and anxiety disorders.
-Lesbian women are at higher risk for violence and harassment from peers and family during adolescence, and at equal or greater risk for intimate partner violence, compared to the rest of the population.
These health disparities and inequities are rooted in the hostile environment(s) of misogyny and homophobia that lesbian women must navigate every day, and these issues are products of the minority stress created by having to navigate life as a member of a marginalized population. Unfortunately, when lesbian women do seek out care, they often have negative experiences that are linked to their sexual orientation. This can make members of this population less eager to seek out preventative care, and that relative lack of preventative screenings contributes to lesbian health inequities.
If you’d like to learn more about how to create more welcoming and inclusive environments for lesbian patients, the Institute offers training on this and a wide range of other topics. If you are interested in training from the Institute, please fill out this form.