LGBTQ+ Health Care: A Guide to Staying Healthy
If you’re an LGBTQ+ person, you know that your health care needs are unique. You may have questions about your sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression, and how they might affect your health. You may also be concerned about finding a doctor who is LGBTQ+-friendly.
We’re here to help, covering many things you need to know about LGBTQ+ health care, from finding a doctor to navigating insurance to understanding your specific health needs.
Finding a Doctor
One of the most important things you can do for your health is to find a doctor who you feel comfortable with. This is especially important for LGBTQ+ people, who may have had negative experiences with doctors in the past.
There are a few things you can do to find a LGBTQ+-friendly doctor. You can ask your friends, family or community for recommendations. You can also search online for LGBTQ+-friendly doctors in your area.
When you’re making an appointment, be sure to tell the receptionist that you’re LGBTQ+. This will help ensure that you’re seen by a doctor who is familiar with the unique health needs of LGBTQ+ people.
Health insurance can be complicated, and it can be even more so for LGBTQ+ people. That’s because many insurance plans don’t cover all of the health care services that LGBTQ+ people need.
For example, some insurance plans don’t cover hormone therapy or gender-affirming surgery. Others have high deductibles or copays for these services.
If you’re not sure what your insurance covers, be sure to call your plan and ask. You can also talk to your doctor about your specific needs and how they can be met under your insurance plan.
Understanding Your Health Needs
As an LGBTQ+ person, you may have health needs that are different from those of cisgender heterosexual people. For example, LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. They’re also more likely to smoke cigarettes and use other drugs.
It’s important to be aware of your specific health needs and to talk to your doctor about them. Your doctor can help you develop a plan to stay healthy.
Here are some of the specific health needs that LGBTQ+ people may have:
- Mental health: LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.
- Substance use: LGBTQ+ people are more likely to smoke cigarettes and use other drugs, such as alcohol, marijuana, and crystal meth.
- Sexual health: LGBTQ+ people are more likely to contract sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- HIV/AIDS: LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.
- Gender-affirming care: Transgender people may need gender-affirming care, such as hormone therapy or surgery, to live their authentic lives.
There are many resources available throughout the Bay Area to help LGBTQ+ people with their health care needs. Here are a few of them:
- SF LGBT Center: The SF LGBT Center is a community center that provides a wide range of services to LGBTQ people, including health care, housing, employment, and education.
- Lyon-Martin Health Services: Lyon-Martin is a health center that specializes in providing care to LGBTQ+ people. They offer a wide range of services, including primary care, mental health care, and HIV/AIDS care.
- Dimensions Queer Youth Health Clinic: Dimensions is a health clinic that provides care to LGBTQ+ +youth. They offer a wide range of services, including primary care, mental health care, and HIV/AIDS care.
- San Francisco Department of Public Health: The San Francisco Department of Public Health has a number of programs and services that are specifically designed for LGBTQ+ people. These include HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, sexual health education, and mental health services.
- UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco: UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital San Francisco has a number of programs and services that are specifically designed for LGBTQ+ youth. These include primary care, mental health care, and gender-affirming care.
- The Trevor Project: The Trevor Project is a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ+ youth. They offer a 24/7 hotline, online chat, and text messaging service.
Your health is important, and it’s important to have access to quality health care. As an LGBTQ+ person, you may have unique health needs. By finding a LGBTQ+-friendly doctor, understanding your health needs, and using the resources available to you, you can stay healthy and live a long and fulfilling life.
Here are some additional tips for staying healthy as an LGBTQ+ person:
- Get regular checkups. This is especially important for LGBTQ+ people who are at higher risk for certain health conditions, such as HIV/AIDS, STIs, and mental health problems.
- Talk to your doctor about your sexual orientation and gender identity. This will help your doctor provide you with the best possible care.
- Be open about your sexual orientation and gender identity with your friends, family, and community. This can help you feel more supported and connected.
- Get involved in LGBTQ+ organizations and events. This can help you connect with other LGBTQ+ people and learn more about your health needs.
- Take care of your mental health. LGBTQ+ people are more likely to experience mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety. Make sure to talk to your doctor if you’re struggling with your mental health.
- Live a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep.
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If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately, call your doctor, or go to the emergency room/urgent care.