Lesbian Health Workshop Questions

The questions below were generated during the LGBT workshop’s session on health experiences during Pride Week 2010. All of the lesbians present shared that they never ask any questions relating to their sexual health when they go to see a doctor. They only go to see a doctor for the usual sicknesses of fever etc. They never consult a doctor relating to sexual health. They feel too afraid and too ashamed.

So, we asked the lesbians if they could ask a doctor some questions, what would they want to ask? Here are their questions and our answers:
1     Can lesbians be affected by sexually transmitted infections or diseases?

The basic answer is yes. In fact the message for lesbians isn’t that much different to the general population, as STI risk relates to sexual practice rather than sexual orientation. With women having sex with women rates of contracting STIs are generally much lower, but not zero.


Facing Double Discrimination

Pride Poster designed by Amy Sanford for RoCK

Pride Poster designed by Amy Sanford for RoCK

“Feelings, oh feelings, please accept this. I have not wronged – even in law. We wish to have a place in this world and to love one another freely.” – Noy Sitha, 58, Women’s Network for Unity

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people exist in all countries yet in many places they remain largely invisible and subject to discrimination and human rights violations.

In more than 80 countries homosexuality is punishable by law and in several of those countries the punishment for same-sex love may be death. Even in “progressive” countries like England or the United States, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people are still fighting for equal rights including the right to employment, to marry, and to have a family.
Since I came to Cambodia in 2008, I have been part of the formation of a small group of local and international LGBT volunteers who organized Cambodia Pride 2009 and 2010 – two week-long Pride events in Cambodia emphasizing love, diversity, and acceptance. These events included workshops on lesbian sexual health and family acceptance as well as a community day, an art exhibition, and a film festival.


Working Together

Many of you are already working together to support each other and help solve problems. If you want to get involved here are some of the things you could do…

  1. Think about what you personally can do to make your community healthier
  2. Work to keep yourself healthy and encourage your friends and partners to do the same
  3. Support each other and reach out to anyone you think needs help
  4. Get involved with other lesbians if you are confident enough to do so
  5. Be a lesbian role model if you are ‘out’ already so that other lesbian women know they are not alone.


Maintaining good health

Sadly, lesbians are at an increased risk of several types of cancers such as breast, colon, ovarian and endometrial cancer because they are less likely to have children, to breast feed and to use oral contraceptives. It is therefore very important to be aware of your own health and act quickly at the first sign of a problem.

Breast health

lstyle_maintaning_good_health_1

* Images courtesy of National Cancer Institute

One of the most important things you can do to safeguard your health is to carry out regular breast examinations for unusual lumps, tenderness or discharge and a visit to the doctor to check anything you are not sure about. It only takes 15 minutes, once a month and here’s how you do it…


Becoming sexually active

lstyle_become_sexually_activeBefore you have sex you should make sure you are ready to become sexually active. Don’t be forced into something that is not right for you. Both you and your partner should trust and respect each other and you should both be informed about safe sex so you know you are doing it safely. There is lots of information on this website about general safe sex practices. Many of them apply mainly to men but the basic rules are the same for men and women so make sure you know what to do to have responsible, safe sex.

How do two women have sex together?

Having sex with another woman is a wonderful and natural experience if you are a lesbian or bi-sexual. The best thing about two women having sex is that you understand each other’s bodies so well! Bear in mind that what works for one woman may not work for another. Sexual response and pleasure is a very personal and individual experience.

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