Lesbians and Cervical Cancer

Lesbians and Cervical Cancer

Women who have sex with women can contract HPV from genital to genital contact or sharing toys without cleaning, like a heterosexual woman, according to the National LGBT Cancer Network.

Researches and scientist also believe that HPV can be transmitted through oral sex, as high as 30% of incidences, although they have yet to prove this ideology. Also noted by the National LGBT Cancer Network, lesbians are less likely to visit reproductive health specialist; thus, not having a lot of information about HPV. They must rely on their primary care physician.

According to a study by Kate O’Hanlan MD, FACOG, FACS and Suzanne L. Dibble, DNSc, RN, the study titled Gynecologic Cancers in Lesbian and Bisexual Women, lesbians got fewer PAPs. The mean interval between PAP smear was 21-34 months for lesbians versus 8-12 months for heterosexuals. They feel that the possible reasons for this is the reluctance to seek healthcare because of unfriendly providers, economic disadvantage, self-perception of low risk for STDs and cervical cancer and the provider's belief that lesbians are at a lower risk of HPV.

Cancer.org doubled down on the fear of discrimination when telling a health care provider about their sexual orientation. Also, some health insurance policies don't cover unmarried partners, even though most states now allow same-sex marriages or legal partnerships between couples.

Having a PAP smear is still the first line of defense for early detection of possible cervical cancer. Testing should start at 25 years of age for females, and continue every 3 years. According to Cancer.org, females over 65 "who have had regular cervical cancer testing in the past 10 years with normal (or "negative") results should not be tested for cervical cancer. Your most recent test should be within the past 3 to 5 years. Those with a history of serious cervical precancer should continue to be tested for at least 25 years after that diagnosis, even if testing goes past age 65." Women who have had a hysterectomy does not need to test if the cervix and uterus has been removed. Females who have had the HPV vaccine should still get tested with a PAP smear for their age group.

The HPV vaccine is available to males and females between the ages of 9-26. There may be some protection for people up to 45 years of age. Talk to your doctor for more information and to see if it's right for you.

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