Getting lesbian periods

Lesbian women and gynecology

In the last few years, an increasing social tabooing of homosexual lifestyles has also been observed in Austria. The federal law on registered partnerships, which has been in force since January 1, 2010, will certainly have a supportive effect. Nevertheless, it is far from a matter of course to regard lesbian lifestyles as 'normal' and equivalent to heterosexual lifestyles.

In the health system in particular, for example among doctors, nursing staff or psychotherapists, there is still a great need for awareness-raising and education. There is largely a lack of knowledge about lesbian lifestyles, health needs and specific disease risks of lesbian women. (Österreichischer Frauengesundheitsbericht 2010/2011, 72) The fact that a patient does not automatically have to live her sexuality with a man has not yet reached the doctors' awareness.

Lesbian women and gynecologists - not a natural encounter

For lesbian women, visits to gynecologists can therefore be associated with an inhibition threshold. Only in exceptional cases are lesbian women specifically addressed as patients. Therefore, it is up to them to declare themselves lesbian or not to do so. Often the latter is decided. This is partly because the women are afraid of the doctors' reactions: “The spectrum can range from ignorance and lesbian life to prejudice against homosexuality. There are still many doctors who do not know how to behave towards lesbian patients. "(Frauengesundheitsbericht Bremen 2001, 27)

Therefore, gynecologists often do not become confidants with whom one can talk about questions of pleasure and displeasure, about sexual problems or even about the desire to have children. Rather, questions relating to the sex life of lesbian or bisexual women are left out or on an abstract level.

It would be helpful if gynecologists actively approach the patients on their first visit. Simple questions could have a confidence-building effect, such as: “Do you live your sexuality with women and / or with men? Do you have changing sex partners? Are you using contraception? Why not? ”These questions should be asked. This would convey normality and a matter of course and the doctors could also prevent from asking incorrect questions right from the start.

Young women and gynecologists - a tricky story

The most common reason young women see a gynecologist is because of the question of contraception. Women who are heterosexual therefore have regular contact with gynecologists, for example to get a prescription for the pill. Since this does not apply to women who live their sexuality exclusively with women, they do not necessarily come into contact with gynecologists, and this can be the case for many years.

It is therefore important to specifically encourage young women-loving women to see a gynecologist. And on the part of the gynecologists, an active contribution is to be demanded in order to make it easier, especially for young women, to ask questions and talk about their feelings. Especially in times of coming out, it is essential to absorb uncertainties, put fears into perspective, and communicate. And here gynecologists with additional sex education and / or psychological qualifications could play a central role. This could open up that space of trust that automatically enables young lesbian women to talk about their sex life - and all related questions - to feel accepted, not to be left alone.

Early detection examinations: "Lesbians need Pap tests too" 1

Lesbian women can also develop cervical cancer, uterine cancer or breast cancer. It is known from international studies, however, that women who love women use screening examinations (such as gynecological examinations, breast examinations) less often than heterosexual women. There are various reasons for this: As already explained, lesbian women per se have fewer reasons to visit gynecologists. Due to the often sporadic visits to gynecologists, they are therefore not automatically informed or invited to carry out the important early diagnosis examinations.

But many lesbian women also lack the awareness that they could get these diseases. There should be increased awareness-raising work aimed specifically at lesbian women, and this along the different phases of life.

1 This is the title of a folder from the Anti-Cancer Council in Victoria, Australia. This folder was published after it was found that lesbian women participate significantly less in screening for cervical cancer. (Folder can be downloaded from http://www.papscreen.org.au/downloads/resources/brochures/Lesbians_need_Pap_tests_too.pdf)

Sexually transmitted diseases - also an issue for lesbian women

With regard to lesbian women and sexually transmitted diseases, there is often a lack of medically established knowledge, especially since there are hardly any international studies on lesbian women and their sex life. It is assumed that lesbian women are less likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases. However, infection from woman to woman is possible, especially when having oral sex during menstruation or when using sex toys. (Ministry of Health, Social Affairs, Women and Family of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia 2004, 7)

Desire for children - and how can it be fulfilled?

In connection with biological and social reproduction, it should be emphasized that lesbian women - and also gay men - who are partnered in Austria are exposed to particular discrimination. The federal law on registered partnerships prohibits the adoption of registered partners: This applies to both the joint adoption of a child (foreign child adoption) and the adoption of the partner's child (stepchild adoption)2. In addition, medically assisted reproduction is also prohibited.3

2 Source: http://www.part Partnerschaftsgesetz.at/page_attachments/0000/1020/ep_broschuere_web.pdf
3 See Article 4, Section 2 Paragraph 1 "(1) Medically assisted reproduction is only permitted in a marriage or partnership of people of different sexes." (Source: http://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Dokumente /BgblAuth/BGBLA_2009_I_135/BGBLA_2009_I_135.pdf)

FreiSwimmerin: Lust and gray (s) zones of lesbian sexuality
Gita Tost, Ulrike Helmer Verlag, 1999

We love who we want - self-help for lesbian, gay and bisexual young people, Ellen Bass, Kate Kaufmann, Orlanda Frauenverlag GmbH, 1999

Metamorphoses - Lesbians and Menopause, Ulrike Janz, Krug & Schadenberg, 2006

Working group women's health in medicine, psychotherapy and society eV (ed.) (2010), health of lesbian and bisexual women, information for lesbian and bisexual women, medical professionals, doctors, therapists, interested parties, folder, created by the specialist group for lesbian health in the AKF eV, Helga Seyler,
Dr. Gabriele Dennert, responsible: Dr. Maria Beckermann (available to download from: http://www.akf-info.de/portal/2013/07/05/fachgruppe-gesundheit-lesbischer-und-bisexueller-frauen/)

Women's Health Report Bremen 2001 (2001), ed. from the Senator for Labor, Women, Health, Youth and Social Affairs, Health Service Department, Health Reporting Unit, Bremen

Ministry for Health, Social Affairs, Women and Family of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (Ed.) (2004): Dealing with diversity. Sexual Orientation and Diversity in Education and Counseling, Chap. 4: Health and psychosocial problems, Düsseldorf.

Austrian Women's Health Report 2010/2011 (2011), short version, ed. from the Federal Ministry of Health, Vienna

Solarz, Andrea L. (Ed.) (1999), Lesbian Health, Current Assessment and Directions for the Future, Washington D.C (available to download from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?isbn=0309060931)

Image sources:
Two girls © Rikke - Fotolia.com, (http://de.fotolia.com/id/13077740)
Characters (under information) © Dustin Lyson - Fotolia.com, (http://de.fotolia.com/id/13120684)

Author: Dr.in Birgit Buchinger, social scientist and organizational developer