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5 Ways Bisexual Women Can Pursue Better Healthcare

Many individuals in the LGBT community face significant issues with regard to health care. For example, bisexual women face a high risk of physical and mental health problems and have a higher likelihood of experiencing violence and addiction. Discrimination is often experienced within the healthcare system. The bisexual community is fighting this, to spread education and make quality healthcare more accessible.

There are some general guidelines that may be helpful for bisexual women who are looking for quality health care. Read on to learn the five ways bisexual women can take care of their health, even while facing exceptional challenges.

5 Ways Bisexual Women Can Pursue Better Healthcare

Be aware of risks
Bisexual women are more likely to experience addiction, smoke, have depression and have suicidal thoughts and/or attempts, compared to other groups. Bi woman are also at a higher risk for cancer than heterosexual women or lesbians and less likely to get screening. Amy André, a co-author of Bisexual Health: An Introduction said, “Research shows that bisexuals experience more discrimination, violence, and stigma than gays and lesbians.” She believes that the fact that bisexuals have the worst health is directly linked to the violence, stigma and discrimination.

Seek quality health care
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to assume that every doctor is able to cater to the unique needs of LGBT patients. It is easier in urban areas, but still more difficult to find a provider that doesn’t group bisexual patients with gay or straight women. There is a list of providers in the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association directory and the Bisexual-Aware Professionals Directory. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and compassion.

Be your own advocate
You’ll need to be more assertive at times because some doctors will ask questions that are heteronormative. If you find that the doctor assumes you are a sexuality that you aren’t, you may need to answer broadly. You’ll want to make sure that you’re giving proper information about your past and current partners, and your sexuality. Some women will find it more difficult if they live in a small community with few doctors. Push yourself as far as you feel comfortable and remember that you can request certain types of screening for your physical and mental health.

Know your financial barriers
According to LGBT MAP’s Unfair Price study, bi women are more than twice as likely to live in poverty than the general population, and 29% of LGBT women have trouble finding affordable health care, compared to 19% of heterosexual women. Women in rural areas may experience even more difficulty. It’s of vital importance to have access to affordable health care. This could mean a visit to a free clinic, Planned Parenthood or a doctor’s office that takes your health insurance.

Get the word out
Form a support system and be supportive to others in a similar position. Doing this not only positively affects your chances of receiving affordable health care, it improves your health.

Study Shows LGBT Women among Most at Risk for Poverty

A study conducted by The National LGBTQ Task Force, Movement Advance Project, and Center for American Progress, called Paying an Unfair Price: The Financial Penalty for LGBT Women in America, shows that LGBT women are presented with challenges that obstruct their economic well being in health coverage, jobs and getting legal recognition from their families. The study emphasizes the many obstacles that LGBT women in the US face, including exclusion from insurance coverage, wage differences and inflexible workplaces.

LGBT women (transgender in particular) risk employment discrimination
Sixteen percent of LGB individuals said they lost their job because of sexual orientation and 35 percent said they were harassed by their employers, as recently as 2008. Sixty-two percent of LGB people in the study said they heard jokes about lesbians and gays while at work. Out of the transgender women surveyed, 55 percent of them said they were turned down for employment due to their gender identity.

LGBT women are asked by healthcare providers to pay higher rates
They are twice as likely as non-LGBT women to not have a doctor who they visit on a consistent and regular basis. LGBT women with incomes at or below $47,000/yr tend not to have healthcare coverage. The fact that there are exclusions in care for transition-related issues, it’s incredibly expensive for needed services for trans women.

LGBT women are more likely not allowed to be legal parents of their children
They often lack protected family or medical leave at work, and face obstacles in obtaining safe, affordable health care for their families. This is due to the lack of marriage equality throughout the US.

Study Shows LGBT Women among Most at Risk for Poverty

LGBT women pay higher rent and longer rental applications
One study by H.U.D. showed that opposite-sex couples were favored over same-sex couples by 16 percent when they applied for the same rentals. Same-sex couples were given higher prices, longer application processes and less incentives about promotions.

LGBT women lack intimate partner violence protection
The study showed that bisexual women were less “out” in the workplace, which may cause them to stay in an abusive relationship because they fear being outed by their partner. It’s also possible that women who report domestic violence when they’re in same-sex relationships are not taken seriously because of gender stereotypes.

LGBT women/families may not be aware of their eligibility for government assistance
It’s challenging for same-sex couples to navigate state and federal benefit systems because of the legal jumble of relationship recognition for them.

Eating Disorders a Significant Problem in the LGBT Community

Numerous findings from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) have been gathered about eating disorders in the LGBT population.

Unfortunately, eating disorders are a problem with individuals in general. In the US, 20 million women are affected and 10 million men. In the LGBT community, a reported 15 percent of gay and bisexual men reported having some type of eating disorder in their life compared to 4.6 percent of heterosexual men. A survey showed that gay men were seven times more likely to binge and 12 times more likely to purge than heterosexual men. In the LGBT adolescent group, gay and bisexual individuals were much more likely to have gone on a fast, vomited or purged in another way, than heterosexuals reported.

Eating Disorders a Significant Problem in the LGBT Community

According to the research, lesbian women appeared to be the most satisfied with their bodies overall, but they, along with bisexual females, were at more of a binge-eating risk than heterosexual women, at approximately twice the rate. Lesbian and bisexual girls were also shown to have higher rates of laxative use and purging, or vomiting than heterosexual girls. No matter their sex, those identifying as LGBTQ were more likely to have disordered eating habits or an eating disorder than their heterosexual peers. It was not unusual for LGBT teens to have disordered eating habits when they were as young as 12.

There are some issues that may explain this big difference in eating disorders in the LGBT population, with teens in particular, including:

  • Internalization of negative thoughts and messages about gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation
  • Fears about rejection and coming out
  • Having previous traumatic experiences related to sexual orientation
  • Past experiences with discrimination or bullying

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions associated with eating disorders. For example, many people don’t think they affect men or they believe eating disorders to be lifestyle choices, not illnesses. It’s important to spread awareness of the actual truth.  There is help available and everyone should feel safe seeking treatment.

Unique Concerns for Bisexuals Regarding Healthcare

Because they’re all sexual minorities, it’s common to group lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people into one group. 

The problem with this arises when studies involving bisexual men and women involve information specific to them that begs for our attention.  One study in particular reported that bisexuals experienced significant obstacles with receiving health care,  experienced suicidal ideation within the past year, reported feeling sad, and had more cardiac disease risk than heterosexuals.

A study by Diamant et. al. showed that bisexual women were less likely to have insurance during the previous year, we’re not as likely as heterosexual women to have health insurance in general,  and had a greater chance of experiencing difficulty receiving needed medical care.  In another study,  bisexual women we’re shown to be more likely to experience frequent mental distress and worse general health than lesbians, the difference being even more extreme for bisexual women who lived in urban areas.

Research has shown that bisexual women and men are at a higher risk for a poor quality of life, healthwise, including a greater incidence of certain cancers.  Bisexual women reported higher rates than lesbians or heterosexual women, for any type of cancer, in a large U.S. study of women, ages 50-79.  Bisexual women are impacted the most with breast cancer, as never having given birth is one of the risk factors.  And, bisexual women are at more risk for endometrial and ovarian cancers because they’re twice as likely to not have given birth as heterosexual women.

It’s interesting, though; bisexual women were twice as likely as heterosexual women to have given birth during their teenage years which also impacts health.  Unfortunately, bisexual women were less likely than other groups in the LGBT community to have received a pap smear or mammogram, which are two ways of screening cancer and lowering the cases of cancer.

It’s incredibly important to recognize these health differences within the LGBT community and in comparison to heterosexual individuals.  It’s obvious that this group is more burdened with cancer than the general population, but still studies need to go more in depth in order to understand the specific differences for individuals in the LGBT population.

Popular Misconceptions about Bisexuals

There are many harmful misconceptions out there regarding bisexuality.

These common assumptions exist in and outside of the LGBT community.  Bisexuality is real and it’s here to stay.  Some of your friends might be bisexual (or you might be, of course) and won’t come out for fear of being judged harshly and incorrectly.  It’s time that everyone is able to put these myths to rest.  Here are some of the most popular fallacies about bisexuality:

Bisexuals are attracted to men and women equally

Everyone is different.  Some who identify as bisexual might be attracted to one gender in a different way than they are to another and possibly much more.  Others do not believe that gender matters at all when it comes to their attractions.  It’s best to refer to the Kinsey scale to understand this more thoroughly. The Kinsey scale has sexual orientation displayed on a scale from 0 to 6.  Zero means that a person is completely heterosexual and 6 means exclusively homosexual. We can each fit anywhere on that scale…and we won’t necessarily stay in the exact spot.

Popular Misconceptions about Bisexuals

Bisexuals are in a phase before coming out as homosexual

It is possible that some lesbian and gay people came out as bisexual first, but that’s not the rule.  It’s also true that some who identify as lesbian or gay end up coming out as bisexual.  Sexuality can be fluid for some, just like a lot of things in life.

We’re all bisexual or we’re all not bisexual

Bisexuality is real.  There are actually individuals who will be attracted to and have sex with both men and women for their entire lives.  This is not everyone, though.

Bisexuals can’t have a partner of just one gender

It’s a common misconception that bisexual people will need to be involved with both genders to be sexually and emotionally fulfilled.  There are many who are perfectly content having the partner they’re with at any given time and who want to be monogamous.

Bisexuals are just very promiscuous people…more than any other group

Just as with any other sexual orientation, there will be some people who are promiscuous and some who are extremely monogamous.  Sexual orientation is not the deciding factor here, the individual makes the decision.

“Biphobia” Is a Common Problem

Most people are familiar with the word “homophobia”.  There are many terrible, damaging myths and stereotypes out there that remind us far too much about how common it is to hate and be ignorant. There is another form of phobia that is less spoken about and it’s fairly safe to say that many have never heard of it: It’s called “biphobia” and it comes from all parts of the human sexuality spectrum.

Not everyone who is biphobic is homophobic.  There are those who believe bisexuals must be either straight or gay.  It’s an unfair judgment that’s not only invalidating, but is effectively saying that those identifying as bisexual are dishonest people.  It causes them to be unjustly assessed–as if their supposed ‘lies’ stretch to other areas of their lives.  Examples of biphobic statements are:

  • Bisexuals are confused.
  • Bisexuals just want to have threesomes/kinky sex.
  • Bisexuality is a phase.
  • Bisexual women just want to get men “hot and bothered’.

Many bisexuals stay ‘in the closet’ due to attitudes from the LGBT community and heterosexuals.  They might try to pass as either gay or straight.  Sadly, bisexuals are viewed as gay or lesbian when they’re with a same-sex partner and heterosexual when they have an opposite-sex partner.  The attitude that bisexuality doesn’t exist is a dangerous one to hold.

Bisexuality is not an undecided sexuality or a phase.  It’s not about being confused.  If anything, it’s biphobia that’s making things complicated.  Even if you’re not bisexual, take it upon yourself to help stop these myths. When you hear someone engaging in biphobic behavior, stop them and let them know the truth.  It’s best to be calm while doing this, of course…the message will be received more openly and taken more seriously that way.

If a loved one comes out to you, treat it seriously and with compassion.  Don’t treat them as if they’re suddenly all about sex or they’re just experimenting. It took a lot of courage for them to come out.  A little education and compassion goes a long way!

Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health

There is so much health information available online geared toward lesbian health. How does lesbian or bisexual health differ from that of heterosexual women? It doesn’t. Women who identify as lesbian and bisexual are prone to the same sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections, and yeast infections as women who identify as heterosexual. That said, it is important to note that lesbian and bisexual women do face significantly different issues within health care, such as discrimination and uninformed medical practitioners.

As sexual orientation doesn’t affect a woman’s health, it is reasonable to then look into risk factors and common illnesses for women in general. The number one cause of death for women is heart disease. There are several risk factors that contribute to the likelihood of developing heart disease. While age, race, and genetics are not within your control, obesity and smoking are. Such lifestyle choices make a significant difference when it comes to long-term health, particularly in the prevention and treatment of heart disease.

Lesbian and Bisexual Women’s Health

The second most common cause of death amongst women is cancer of the breast, lung, colon, uterus, and ovaries. This is one case that research shows a significant increase in rates for lesbian or bisexual women. While research is still being conducted, it is believed that breast and ovarian cancers are related to hormone levels. It is thought that full-term pregnancies and breastfeeding release hormones that may protect women against such cancers. As lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to have a full-term pregnancy, they may be at greater risk of developing such cancers.

Of course, the greatest risk for all women is to delay check-ups and exams. It is most important to find a physician that you are comfortable meeting with regularly and speaking with openly. Women should go in for full examinations at least once a year – reach out to a medical provider and make an appointment today!

Health Concerns Faced by Bisexuals

Bisexuality is often misunderstood or not taken seriously.  Discrimination exists within the LGBT community and from heterosexuals.  A bisexual person might be viewed as someone who can’t make up their mind about their true sexuality or as someone who is promiscuous, having little or no sexual boundaries.  More than half of the 3.5 percent of adults in the U.S. who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are, in fact, bisexual. They face unique health concerns that deserve our attention.

Health Concerns Faced by Bisexuals

Some health concerns faced by bisexuals:
  • Substance abuse – According to research, bisexual women have higher rates of drug use than heterosexual women and close to or possibly higher rates than lesbians. The differences between bisexual and gay men have not been clear in studies.
  • Alcohol use – Bisexual women have reported higher rates of alcohol use, abuse and alcohol related problems compared to lesbians and heterosexual women.
  • Sexual health – Bisexual women have reported riskier behavior with sex, compared to heterosexual and lesbian women. Part of this risk comes from the highest rate reported of combining substance/alcohol use and sexual activity.  Bisexual men who have sex with men have an increased risk of HIV infection.
  • Tobacco use – Bisexual women smoke at higher rates than heterosexual women, but about the same as lesbians. Less is known about bisexual men’s smoking habits.
  • Cancer – Bisexual women have reported higher rates of cancer. Some risk factors are: not having given birth (also relevant to a higher rate of lesbians), or being more likely to give birth after age 30, and alcohol consumption.  Also, bisexual women receive mammograms and pap tests at the lowest rates. Men or women who receive anal sex are at a higher risk for anal cancer because of an increased rate of HPV infection.
  • Nutrition/fitness/weight – Bisexual and lesbian women have higher rates of obesity than heterosexual women and more bisexual women are underweight than heterosexual women or lesbians, which would indicate they might be more likely to struggle with healthy eating. Attempts to achieve perfect bodies, due to pressure, have left some gay and bisexual men with adverse health consequences.  They might compulsively exercise, use steroids or develop eating disorders due to a poor body image.
  • Heart disease – Higher rates of heart disease have been reported by bisexual women compared to heterosexual women.
  • Depression/anxiety – Bisexual men and women have reported higher levels of anxiety and depression than heterosexuals and sometimes higher than gay men and lesbians. The issues are likely to be more severe for those who lack social support and those who are unable or unwilling to disclose their sexuality.
  • Social support/emotional well-being – Bisexual women have reported the lowest levels of social support. Bisexual men and women have the lowest emotional well-being of any sexual orientation group.
  • Self-harm/suicide attempts – Bisexual women and men have reported higher levels of suicide attempts, self-harm and suicidal thoughts than heterosexuals and higher than gay men and lesbians in some studies.

Lesbians More Likely to Orgasm, Study Finds

Does one sexual identity have a greater likelihood of sexual pleasure then another? A study by the Kinsey Institute for research of sex and gender at Indiana University Bloomington has found that lesbians are the most likely of any group to experience orgasms.

The study entitled “Variation in Orgasm Occurrence by Sexual Orientation in a Sample of U.S. Singles” surveyed 6,151 single and sexually active men and women, from ages 21 to 65. The researchers found that lesbian women had the highest frequency of orgasms at 75% of sexual experiences resulting in orgasm. The lowest likelihood of orgasm was found in bisexual women at 58%.

The correlation between rate of orgasm and sexual identity was not demonstrated in men. However, men orgasm 85% of the time regardless of sexual orientation or identity, whereas adjusting for sexual orientation, women orgasm only 62% of the time.

Lesbians More Likely to Orgasm, Study Finds

The institute’s founder Alfred Kinsey, pioneered research in sexual pleasure as a scientific pursuit, and noted as early as the 1950s, a correlations between sexual orientation and orgasm, however this is the first attempt to codify Kinsey’s theories.

Scientists next hope to find whether a mental or physical differentiation is responsible for the variations in likelihood of orgasm. Very little is known outside of a purely physiological level—the increase of heart rate and changes in blood pressure. The mental and emotional aspects of stimulation remains something of a mystery to researchers.

HIV and AIDS among Youth and Young Adults

Youth and young adults between the ages of 13 and 24 in the United States are among the highest risk groups of being infected with HIV. The CDC reports that the greatest number of new HIV infections within this age group are among gay and bisexual males, with African-American and Latino males who have sex with other men being at even greater risk.

Why is this population increasingly at risk? There are a myriad of reasons, including a lack of sexual education and information promoting abstinence and delaying initial sexual encounters. These groups are also among the highest populations suffering from substance abuse, homelessness, and sexually transmitted infections.

HIV and AIDS among Youth and Young AdultsLooking at global numbers, a young person becomes HIV-positive every 30 seconds. Studies have shown that the majority of youth and young adults in the U.S. are not afraid of contracting HIV, which equates to low testing rates and low rates of condom use. While there are an increasing number of HIV and AIDS awareness promotion programs, youth advocacy, and health counseling, the data translates to a dire need for greater outreach efforts.

The best way to prevent infection with HIV is abstinence. Secondly, reducing the number of sexual partners, avoiding unprotected sexual encounters, and being tested regularly are the most important steps you can take to prevent infection or spreading the virus. More than half of the percentage of youth infected with HIV/AIDS were not aware that they had the virus.

While many young adults are not concerned with contracting HIV, a large number are still in denial of the increasing risk of contracting and spreading the virus. Even if you think you are not at risk, it is recommended that you get tested regularly. Speak to a professional today, there are a number free test sites available as well as youth programs and counseling services .