Australian Family Physician
Australian Family Physician


Volume 38, Issue 6, June 2009

Lesbian and bisexual women’s sexual health

Ruth McNair
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Lesbian and bisexual women have specific sexual health needs, including the need for information about transmission and prevention of sexually transmissible infections (STIs) between women, contraceptive and conception advice, and support regarding any abuse experiences. These needs can be easily accommodated in general practice. However, there are a number of barriers to general practitioners meeting these needs, including lack of experience in facilitating disclosure of sexual orientation, fears of being intrusive, and lack of specific knowledge and skills in the area of minority sexual orientation.
This article presents the current evidence related to lesbian and bisexual women’s sexual health, describes practical skills to conduct a sensitive sexual history, and discusses sexual health advice that GPs could provide to this group of women.
Improved GP knowledge in this area will increase GPs’ perceived need to inquire about sexual orientation. Sensitive inquiry can be facilitated by creating a welcoming practice environment, using appropriate terminology, assuring confidentiality, establishing relevance, and by using focused and normalising questions.

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