Find out about Bisexual and Lesbian Health!
We’re all aware that as women, we have unique health issues. This is especially true of specific subgroups of female, such as sexual minority women – lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender women.
A study by the CDC showed that lesbian and bisexuals, or Women-who-have-sex-with-women (WSW) actually suffer from poorer health than regular women. Here’s why:
All of the above create significant barriers to good and timely healthcare!
If you identify as a lesbian or bisexual female, find out more about the healthcare issues you should be paying attention to.
1) Sexual health
Many lesbian and bisexual women aren’t fully aware that they are at risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections.
The commonest STDs amongst lesbian and bisexual women are bacterial vaginosis and human papilloma virus infection.
Other infections such as chlamydia, trichomoniasis and genital herpes, are also common amongst lesbian and bisexual women.
Most STDs are typically transmitted through contact with bodily fluids and blood. However, certain STDs such as human papilloma virus (HPV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV) can also be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. Simple acts of kissing aren’t completely safe either, and can result in transmission of oral herpes.
To minimise the risk of STD transmission, take these 5 necessary precautions:
- Educate yourself about the common STDs, and learn to recognise their symptoms
- Seek treatment for any abnormal symptoms early
- Get a regular sexual health checkup
- Practice safe sex! Always use protection (eg. dental dams and condoms) when with a partner, or when using sex toys. Avoid sharing of sex toys, and remember to keep them clean!
- Get vaccinated against HPV
To read more about STDs, click here.
Breast and cervical cancer rank among the top 5 cancers afflicting women worldwide.
Cervical cancer is caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection, and can be contracted through sexual contact.
Protect yourself against cervical cancer by getting vaccinated against HPV, and by getting a regular Pap smear test.
A Pap test is performed to detect abnormal changes in the cervical cells. Regular testing helps to pick up these changes early, before they progress to full blown cancer.
A Pap smear is usually accompanied by a HPV test, which checks for the presence of HPV infection in your cervical cells.
Read more about Cervical cancer and Pap smears here.
Screening for breast cancer should also be included in your Women’s Health routine.
A simple breast examination can be performed at home, or by your doctor on a regular basis.
In addition, a yearly breast ultrasound is recommended for ladies above 40, and a 2 yearly mammogram for ladies above 50.
3) Heart Disease
In the last decade, cardiovascular disease has overtaken cancer as the leading killer of women in Singapore.
Many women don’t recognise that they are at risk of heart disease; this applies to lesbian and bisexual women too.
Factors that put you at risk for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.
Smoking and alcohol use, both of which are common amongst the lesbian and bisexual community, are also significant risk factors for heart disease.
The more risk factors you have, the higher your chances of having cardiovascular disease.
Visit your doctor to discuss your personal risk profile, and get screened for these risk factors early.
4) Mental Health
Depression and anxiety are already recognised to be more common in women than men, and this is especially so among lesbian and bisexual females.
Often, factors such as social isolation, rejection or discrimination from the community, and the stress of coping with, or hiding your sexuality can increase the chances of having mental health disorders.
When faced with significant loneliness or frustration, lesbian and bisexual women often find it difficult to talk to their friends or family about their feelings, and tend to keep their emotions to themselves. Over time, this can lead to mental health disorders.
As a lesbian or bisexual woman, its important to realise that you have unique health care needs.
Your health is as important as any one else’s, and there is help available to you!
Find a doctor who is open minded and sensitive to your needs, and have an honest and open discussion about your lifestyle and health.
Depending on your age and health profile, your doctor will recommend the appropriate checkups and tests, and follow up on your regular health exams.
Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor for counselling or mental health services as well, if you need it.
Talking to your friends, your doctor or a counsellor can alleviate your mood and help you cope better with stress and anxiety.
Aside from your doctor, some other institutions that provide support include:
Aware Women Singapore – www.aware.org.sg/
Oogachaga – www.oogachaga.com
Care in mind – careinmind.aic.sg
Always Stay Healthy,
Need a Female Doctor?
1.) Dr Tan and Partners @Bencoolen
Main Doctor: Dr Benjamin Loh
180 Bencoolen Street,
#02-20, The Bencoolen
Telephone: +65 6884 4119
Monday – Friday
9.00am – 5.00pm
9.00 am – 1.00 pm
Selected Public Holiday – Closed
2.) Dr Tan and Partners@ Robertson
(Anonymous HIV Testing is available daily too)
11 Unity Street,
#02-06/07, Robertson Walk
Telephone: +65 6238 7810
Monday – Friday
8.00am – 9.00pm
Saturday and Sunday
9.00 am – 2.00 pm
Public Holiday – Closed
3.) Dr Tan and Partners @Scotts
9 Scotts Road,
#06-06 Scotts Medical Centre,
Telephone: +65 6694 2348
Monday – Friday
9.00am – 5.00pm
8.00 am – 1.00 pm
Sunday & Public Holiday – Closed
Other Women’s Sexual Health Articles:
- Vaginal Yeast Infection (Thrush)
- A Women Guide to Contraception
- STD Trichomoniasis and Green Fishy Smell Discharge
- STD Chlamydia Screening & Treatment
- STD Women’s Gonorrhoea Symptoms & Treatment
- STD Women’s Herpes Infection
- Urine Pain & Non-gonococcal urethritis (NGU)
- Bleeding After Sex
- Abnormal Vaginal Discharge
- Women’s STD Screening, Testing and Treatment Service