Seek help for substance abuse
Sexual minority women report higher rates of tobacco use and alcohol and drug dependence.
If you have a substance abuse concern, remember that help is available. Local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health, mental health or community centers often provide substance abuse treatment. Organizations such as GLMA also might provide referrals.
Recognize domestic violence
Domestic violence can affect anyone in an intimate relationship. Sexual minority women might be more likely to stay silent about this kind of violence due to:
- Threats from the batterer to "out" you by telling friends, loved ones, colleagues or community members your sexual orientation
- Fear of discrimination
Staying in an abusive relationship might leave you depressed, anxious and hopeless. If you don't want to disclose your same-sex relationship or sexual identity, you might be less likely to seek help after an assault.
Still, the only way to break the cycle of domestic violence is to take action — the sooner the better. If you're a target of domestic violence, tell someone about the abuse, whether it's a friend, loved one, health care provider or other close contact.
Consider calling a domestic violence hotline and creating a plan to leave your abuser.
Make routine health care a priority
Some sexual minority women struggle to find a doctor knowledgeable about their specific health issues and with whom they feel comfortable discussing their needs and concerns. The GLMA website is one place to find referrals for doctors.
Look for a doctor who is curious, empathic and respectful of your specific needs. Share your sexual orientation with your provider, and ask about routine screenings recommended for women in your age group — such as blood pressure and cholesterol measurements and screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer.
If you're not in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship, schedule regular screenings for sexually transmitted infections. Share any other health concerns you might have with your doctor as well. Early diagnosis and treatment help promote long-term health.
Oct. 10, 2017
See more In-depth
- Lesbian and bisexual health. The National Women's Health Information Center. https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/lesbian-and-bisexual-health. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
- Carroll NM. Medical care of sexual minority women. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
- Knight DA, et al. Preventive health care for women who have sex with women. American Family Physician. 2017;95:314.
- Sexually transmitted diseases treatment guidelines, 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/std/tg2015/default.htm. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
- Intimate partner abuse and relationship violence. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/about/division/activities/abuse.aspx. Accessed Sept. 11, 2017.
- Faubion SS (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Accessed Sept. 12, 2017.