Lesbians can generally be defined as women who have sex with or primary emotional partnerships with women, but there is no universally accepted definition; variability exists in relationships and sexual preferences. Lesbians are found in every ethnic group and socioeconomic class. They can be single, celibate, divorced, teens, and seniors. Most experts believe that sexual orientation is not a conscious choice.
Lesbian has often encountered sensitivity in health care encounters. When they are ask if they are sexually active and respond affirmatively, contraception is immediately urged as heath care providers may assume incorrectly that they practice heterosexual intercourse. Similar to many other marginalized groups of women, they often underuse health care. Some health care providers are homophobic and discrimination against lesbians has been found in health care. Whether heterosexual or homosexual, need to consider lesbianism within the continuum of human sexual behavior and need to used gender- neutral question and terms that are non-judgmental and accepting. Lesbian teens are at risk for suicide and STD’s. Many lesbian do participate in heterosexual activity and often consider themselves at low risk for STD’s. Because HPV, herpes infection and other organism implicated in STDs are transmitted by secretions and contact, they may need information on STDs and contraception. If sex are used and not cleaned, pelvic infections can occur.
Lesbians may smoke and drink more alcohol, may have a higher body mass index, may bear fewer or no children, and often have fewer health preventive screenings than heterosexual women. These factors may predispose them to colon, lung, endometrial, ovarian and breast cancer as well as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Health care provider need to understand the unique needs of this population and provide appropriate and sensitive care.