Gay & Lesbian Health Tips

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Why are lesbians often heavier than heterosexual women?

Lesbian Health Topic: Fitness & Weight

Recent research has revealed that lesbians tend to have a higher body mass than heterosexual women. This may be due in part to less exercise as well as a rebellion against societal pressures for women to remain thin. However, keeping your weight at a reasonable level is vital to your long-term health. Working out and eating right isn't just for supermodels and the sexually oppressed! Take care of yourself so that you and your partner can enjoy a long life together, free of the increased risk of heart disease and other obesity-related ailments.

   
Are lesbians at a higher risk for cancer?

Lesbian Health Topic: Breast & Gynocological Cancers

Just like any other woman, a lesbian must take care of her breast and gynecological health. However, many lesbians over 40 years of age do not get regular mammograms, have clinical examinations, or even perform self-examinations on their breasts. This fact increases risk of cancers and other health problems among lesbians. A simple way to reduce the risk of breast and gynecological cancers is through routine check-ups with your OB-GYN or gynecologist. See him/her once a year for pap smears, mammograms (if you're over 40; get clinical breast exams under 40), and screenings for STDs. Many infections can be treated if discovered in an early stage.

   
What drugs are most used in the gay male community?

Gay Men's Health Topic: Substance Abuse

Substance abuse is a wide-ranging health issue for all communities. However, the rate of abuse is higher among gay men. From alcohol abuse to a number of other drugs such as marijuana, ecstasy, amyl nitrate ("poppers"), and amphetamines. In order to keep yourself safe from the affects of these drugs, it's best to abstain from them entirely, since the long-term affects of them on physical health have not been concretely established. Another reason to abstain from substance abuse is that it will keep your mind clear as you make decisions about potential partners. In the long run, this improves your overall health -- both mental and physical.

   
How can I find a gay-friendly doctor?

Finding the Right Doctor

One of the most important things gays and lesbians can do for their health is to find a gay-friendly general physician (GP). All doctors ideally should be equally well trained, but you are more likely to open up to a doctor who understands the gay lifestyle. This is vital for your health, as honesty with your physician is the first step toward treating any illness or ailment you may have -- and even toward maintaining your health if you're currently in great shape.

You can find a list of local gay- and lesbian-friendly doctors by searching gay and lesbian community resources in your area. Also search the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association (glma.org) for more information.

   
Where can a domestically abused lesbian go for shelter?

Lesban Health Topic: Domestic Violence

If you thought that domestic violence was specific to heterosexual couples, you may be surprised to know that domestic violence is has been reported in about eleven percent of lesbian homes. That's around half the 20 percent rate that's reported by heterosexual women. If you are in an abusive relationship, your rights and protection need to be honored. If you have nowhere to stay, contact your local gay and lesbian community to find out where there are lesbian-friendly shelters in your area. Staying physically safe is key, but you should also seek out psychological services provided by these community groups as well.

   
What is the number one tip for safe anal sex?

Keeping Sex Safe

Mutual enjoyment in human sexuality is a wonderful thing, regardless of our partner's gender. However, there are ways to stay safe during "risky" sex acts, such as anal sex and anal play.

As many of us already know, the rectum carries infection-causing bacteria. The number-one safety tip for all couples is this: Always use a condom during anal sex, and change it every time you switch to vaginal or oral sex and back.

   
How can I make a dental dam?

Condoms for Lesbians?

Dental dams are rectangular latex sheets used most often by dentists during certain oral procedures. Unpunctured, they can also be used to prevent the spread of STDs during oral sex and/or analingus.

But where can you get them? Apparently drug stores carry dental dams, but in the event you can't find any (this writer couldn't, last she checked.), there are alternatives. One of the easiest ways is to make your own, using a condom.

  1. Unwrap the condom.
  2. Using clean scissors, snip off the tip of the condom.
  3. Stick the scissors through the condom and cut, making an incision up the middle of the condom.
  4. Unroll the condom and place against the body area (vagina or anus).
Bonus Tip: Always use a new dental dam every time, whether you switch vagina to anus, anus to anus, or vagina to vagina. Keep one side of the dam toward the body, and the other toward the face. Never switch sides.

   
What is an anal pap smear?

Gay Men's Health Topic: Anal Papilloma

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) can affect all human beings. When it comes to gay men's health, this virus -- which causes anal and genital warts -- is one of the most common. Treatment is possible, but without treatment, HPV can be easily spread between partners and can even cause anal cancer. You can screen for HPV by receiving regular anal pap smears. This is a similar test as the cervical one women receive during regular gynecological exams.

Also, keep yourself safe by always practicing safer sex using a condom.

   
What is Hepatitis?

Gay Men's Health Topic: Hepatitis

Gay male sex raises the risk of sexually transmitted diseases like hepatitis. This is a disease that affects the liver. Hepatitis is an infection that can be fatal an can also lead to long-term problems like liver cancer and/or cirrhosis.

Two of the three most aggressive viruses can be prevented with immunizations: Hepatitis A Virus and Hepatitis B Virus. At this time, the Hepatitis C Virus can only be prevented by the use of safe sex (condoms and/or abstinence).

   
How often should I get tested for HIV?

Getting Tested

Gay men and lesbians who are sexually active and in a non-committed relationship should be tested for HIV on a regular basis. How often? Generally, seeing your doctor or going to a clinic such as Planned Parenthood for HIV screening once a year is a good rule to follow. Testing as well as receiving test results is completely anonymous, so there's no fear of being "outed" or feeling that your medical concerns will be come public knowledge. Also, keep in mind that in order to get a true test result, you'll have to wait three months after possible HIV exposure before you get tested.

   
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