People of any sexual orientation can face health problems. LGBTQ people may be at
a greater risk for health problems because they may not always see a healthcare provider
when they need to. It may be that they feel embarrassed, have had a bad experience,
fear judgment, or have a healthcare provider who is uninformed.
Here are some health issues to be aware of and talk about with your healthcare provider.
While transitioning, you'll take hormones to achieve masculine or feminine effects.
Those hormones carry risks:
Sometimes a transgender person buys hormones from a nonmedical provider. This may
be because the therapy isn't covered by insurance. Or it could be because the person
doesn't want to get medical care. This can result in taking the wrong hormone or the
wrong dosage, which may increase the chance for serious side effects. To limit the
risks, a healthcare provider should closely monitor hormone therapy with blood levels.
Transgender people are at a slightly higher risk of developing some cancers that are
tied to hormone use. Depending on the stage of transition, the breasts, uterus, ovaries,
prostate, or liver can be affected.
Appropriate screenings including prostate, breast, and pelvic exams should be a part
of routine healthcare. Although you might face challenges dealing with healthcare
issues, don't delay or skip these exams. Not getting preventive screening could result
in a delay in the diagnosis and treatment of any cancer.
Mental health issues
LGBTQ people often have mental health issues as they struggle to identify with their
sexuality. You may have a hard time sharing such personal information with family
and friends. You may worry about how loved ones will react. Or you may feel lonely
because you don't want to tell anyone, even those close to you. You may feel depressed
or anxious because of this lack of support or acceptance from your friends, family,
or community. But if you don't seek attention and treatment, your risk for suicide
Sexually transmitted infections
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) include human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis
A and B, HIV, syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhea, among others. Most STIs can be treated,
but some can be fatal. They can affect people no matter what their sexual orientation
is. Certain LGBTQ people may not want to practice safe sex. And some may have lifestyles
that increase their risk. Practicing safe sex can limit your chances of getting or
passing on an STI. Get medical care right away at the first sign of symptoms. Don't
put off a visit to the healthcare provider because you're embarrassed or fear judgment.
LGBTQ people often have substance abuse problems. These include tobacco, alcohol,
and illegal drugs. The reason may be partly that people in this group face challenges
as they strive to find their place in society.
Obesity, smoking, and hormone use are common among LGBTQ people. These factors put
a person at risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. You should get regular
checkups to help prevent heart disease. Also control health conditions like high blood
pressure and obesity, and live a healthy lifestyle.
An unhealthy body weight can contribute to a number of health problems. These range
from depression to heart disease. A healthy lifestyle should be a part of any LGBTQ
person's daily routine. Try to get regular exercise and follow a healthy diet to get
to and maintain a healthy weight.
Be aware of your increased risk for health problems because of your sexual orientation
or gender identity. Set up a good relationship with a healthcare team to help keep
you in good physical and mental health.