One of the main reasons lesbians avoid going to the doctor is fear of discrimination or homophobia. When you go to a doctor, you are vulnerable. You should have someone who is lesbian friendly and knows about the specific health needs of lesbians. Here are some tips for finding a lesbian-friendly doctor.
Time Required: Several Weeks
- Ask Around
Talk to your friends, family members and co-workers. Ask them who their doctors are. Find out if they know a particular medical group to be gay and lesbian-friendly.
- Call your HMO or Health Plan
Call the general information number of your HMO and ask for a list of gay-friendly doctors. If they don't have one, suggest that they put such a list together.
- Call your local Gay & Lesbian Community Center
Many times gay and lesbian centers will have referral lists for gay-friendly doctors and therapists. If the community center has a clinic, you can be sure the doctors that work there are gay friendly!
- Check out the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
GLMA has an online referral system of healthcare providers who indicated a commitment to non-judgmental care of LGBT patients.
- Call and Ask Questions
You may not get the doctor on the phone, but you should be able to talk to a nurse or physician's assistant. Find out if they have other lesbian patients. Is the staff trained in lesbian health issues? Also ask about insurance plans, fees and what services are offered. If you have a specific medical need, make sure their office is equipped to deal with it.
- Visit the Clinic
What is the atmosphere? Are there gay and lesbian materials in the waiting area. Safe Zone posters? Non-discrimination policies posted? I felt at ease in my doctor's office when I saw a poster advertising a gay and lesbian relationships group.
- Talk to the Doctor
Find out if she has worked with lesbian patients before. Does she seem at ease in your presence? Is she able to talk openly about your sexuality? Do you feel you can be open with her?
- Once You've Found a Doctor
Once you do find a lesbian friendly doctor, be sure to talk to her about The Top 10 Things Lesbians Should Discuss with Their Doctors