Health needs of women who have sex with women
Healthcare workers need to be aware of the specific needs of women who have sex with women, argue Clare Hughes and Amy Evans
The term “women who have sex with women” describes sexual behaviour while lesbian is a term that describes sexual identity. However, sexual identity does not necessarily predict sexual behaviour-most lesbians have a history of sexual intercourse with men.1 Women who have sex with women form a small but important group and have specific health needs. A lack of awareness among healthcare professionals about these needs may lead to ill informed advice and missed opportunities for the prevention of illness.
An unfortunate perception exists among healthcare providers and women who have sex with women that they do not need regular cervical smears. High risk types of genital human papillomavirus are associated with developing high grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, and sexual intercourse with men is a powerful risk factor for cervical cancer. However, it is important to counter the erroneous assumption that women who have sex with women are not at risk