Pap Smears Not Frequented In Gay Population

Pap smears are often skipped by lesbians and bisexuals

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) According to a recent study, young lesbian and bisexual women are not monitoring their sexual health as actively as heterosexual young women. 

Even though young lesbians and bisexuals report having more sexual partners and having sex at a younger age, they are not screening as actively as heterosexual young women via Pap smear tests, which helps identify the risk of developing cervical cancer. The study said young bisexual women face an even higher risk of being diagnosed with sexually-transmitted diseases.

"All adolescent women should have pap smears."

Lead study author Brittany Charlton, a graduate student in epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health reports that women of all sexual orientations need to get Pap smears.

Find a health professional you trust as your overall health is at stake. Additionally, Charlton implores medical professionals to screen all their patients: heterosexuals, bisexuals and lesbians.

Devika Singh, M.D., a fellow at the University of Washington who has done research on lesbian health, agrees with Charlton's recommendations and says that research has shown that even women's same sex involvement provides a risk of transmitting human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer and other cancers. 

Singh says that  a general lack of awareness on the part of health care providers regarding which kind of sex, heterosexual, bisexual or strictly lesbian, provides risks to contract sexually-transmitted diseases.

Charlton surmises that lesbian and bisexual women don't get Pap smear tests because they don't believe their sexual behaviors can and oftentimes will result in a sexually-transmitted infection. 

She adds that gay men, bisexuals and lesbians might experience discomfort with sharing their orientation with health care professionals.

Previous studies indicate that women involved only with same sex relationships are at lower risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases than are women who have sex with men. This picture, however, is incomplete. Most young women who have identified themselves in adolescence as either lesbian or bisexual have had sex with men before.

Research findings show that about 75 percent  of sexually active lesbian adolescents have had sex with men. Ninety-six percent of adolescents who have identified themselves as bisexuals have had sex with men. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 7, 2011
Last Updated:
June 10, 2011