On this page you will find advice on medical issues facing LGBT men and women, as well as links to external advice. If you have any questions see your practice nurse or book an appointment with your MO/SMO.
Also, you might like to check out Stonewall’s research into the health of LGB folk: http://www.healthylives.stonewall.org.uk/lgb-health/
Remember the first rule of sexual health: prevention is better than cure. All unprotected sex is unsafe sex and puts you at risk of a range of diseases. These include:
- Blood borne viruses (HIV, Hep B, Hep C, HPV/warts, Herpes)
- Bacterial infections (gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis)
- Parasites (crabs, scabies)
There are a few easy ways to stay healthy:
- Have yourself checked. It’s a good habit to get into for peace of mind. However, a sex health screen is vital if you have any symptoms:
- Penile or vaginal discharge
- Cloudy or offensive urine, or urine that hurts to pass
- New lumps, bumps or ulcers
- Pain or burning down below (genital or anal) – this can happen when you pee, defecate or have sex
- Testicular pain or swelling
- Anal itching
- Abnormal menstrual bleeding
- Use protection – condoms are the most successful way to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted infections. When you are using condoms make sure they do not get weakened: stick to water-based lubricants. If you use hand creams, moisturisers, petroleum jelly or oils you can weaken the condom, making it more likely that they will break.
- Don’t share sex toys, and keep them safe by putting a condom on them. Remember to clean them after use.
- Remember oral sex is not without risks. Limit the number of people you have oral sex with, and use protection
- If you have unprotected sex get yourself to a sex health clinic urgently. If there isn’t a sex health clinic (aka Genito-Urinary Medicine – GUM – clinic) you can got to your local A&E. The use of anti-HIV medications shortly after unprotected sex can help prevent spread of HIV. The earlier the treatment, the less likely you are to contract HIV. You should go within hours, as treatment after a few days is likely to be ineffective
- Remember HIV isn’t the only disease out there. Hepatitis B and C are difficult to treat and much easier to catch. People at risk can attend a GUM clinic and get vaccinated against Hep B. Sadly, there is no vaccine against Hep C, so protection is the only form of prevention
Check out further information at http://www.bashh.org/BASHH/Public_and_Patient_information/Safer_Sex_Advice/BASHH/Public___patient_information/safer_sex_advice.aspx?hkey=e0954253-ba70-4b4b-aff4-69623e3c3831
Find your nearest GUM clinic: http://www.nhs.uk/Service-Search/Sexual%20health%20information%20and%20support/LocationSearch/734
LGBT men and women are more likely to suffer with mental health issues – particularly depression, anxiety and concerns about their body image.
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness: in fact it takes great courage. If you are suffering the following symptoms you should see your doctor today:
- Low mood which you can’t get out of
- Crying a lot
- Poor sleeping or sleeping too much
- Reduced appetite
- Poor concentration
- Feeling helpless, worthless or guilty
- Feeling life isn’t worth living
- Thinking about suicide
- Starving, purging, or taking laxatives to control your body image
If you are suffering with a mental health issue, speak to someone, and make sure you avoid drugs and alcohol. Try your best to eat well, sleep at regular times, and take exercise.
If you are suicidal do not suffer alone: there are numerous people ready to listen. Call the Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90.
- Examine your breasts for lumps and see a doctor if you find anything – http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/testing/types/self_exam/bse_steps
- Keep up to date with cervical smear tests (PAP test). The smear test is the best way to detect early changes in the cells on your cervix. In fact you can catch the changes before they become cancerous. If you haven’t had a cervical smear test in the past two years, or if you failed to return for a further smear when your last one wasn’t normal, BOOK TO SEE YOUR PRACTICE NURSE NOW – http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Cancer-of-the-cervix/Pages/Introduction.aspx
- Consider asking your doctor for vaccination against the virus that causes cervical cancer (HPV – Human Papilloma Virus) – http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/vaccinations/Pages/hpv-human-papillomavirus-vaccine.aspx
- Check your tackle. Testicular cancer caught early has an excellent survival rate. Let it spread and your chances of getting over it are reduced: https://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/ADR001802_TesticularCancerFacts.pdf
- Having problem peeing? Difficulty starting to pee, trouble finishing, suffering with dribbling, incontinence, or a poor flow? This could mean your prostate is enlarged. See your doctor today – http://prostatecanceruk.org/information/prostate-problems
Drugs & Alcohol
The Army’s position on drugs is simple: don’t use them. Your career is at risk if you do. The risks are listed on the http://www.talktofrank.com site.
If you drink alcohol you should never drink enough to lose control of your behaviour or memory. Long term, the risks of excess alcohol are numerous (liver damage, cancer, dementia, stroke, high blood pressure, hearing loss, visual change). In the short term, being drunk puts you at risk of having an accident. In the under 35 age group accidents are the most common cause of death. Here is some general advice about using alcohol wisely:
- Never drink and drive!
- Drink less than 2 units per day if you are a woman (1 standard glass of wine: a large glass is OVER your recommended amount)
- Drinks less than 3 units per day if you are a man (1 pint of larger, 1 large glass of wine)
- Know your units: https://www.drinkaware.co.uk
- Seek help if you are drinking too much, can’t stop drinking, or if alcohol is causing you to get into trouble.