Reproductive health in lesbian and bisexual women in Sweden

Authors

  • LENA MOEGELIN,

    Corresponding author
    1. Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset, Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • BO NILSSON,

    1. Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset, Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stockholm, Sweden
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  • LOTTIE HELSTRÖM

    1. Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset, Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stockholm, Sweden
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Lena Moegelin, Karolinska Institutet, Department of Clinical Science and Education, Södersjukhuset, Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stockholm, 11860, Sweden. E-mail: lena.moegelin@sodersjukhuset.se

Abstract

Objective. Previous international studies have elucidated signs of poor physical and mental health in women who have sex with women (WSW) and an avoidance of preventive healthcare. When the first Nordic gynecological clinic for WSW was started in Stockholm in 1999, an opportunity to compile information about their physical and psychological health and social situation arose. Design. Retrospective descriptive. Setting and sample. A total of 706 women: 264 patients attending a WSW clinic and 442 women attending the regular gynecological clinic. Methods. Questionnaires. Response rate: WSW 77%, comparison group 40%. Main outcome measures. Possible differences in mental and reproductive health and attendance of preventive healthcare by WSW and heterosexual women. Results. Having had a male sexual partner was reported by 82.3% of the WSW, 39.5% in the last five years and 4.9% in the last year. One-fifth of WSW had been pregnant, and one in ten had given birth. Equally, many had experience of induced abortion. WSW had less experience of gynecological examination and Papanicolaou smear screening. More than one-fifth of WSW had at some time had sexually transmitted infections (STI) and 12.6% reported a history of cervical atypia. WSW remembered dissatisfaction with their sexual lives during their youth and had more frequently sought professional help for their sexuality. Conclusion. WSW attend gynecological examinations to a lesser extent than heterosexual women. The fact that WSW reported having been affected by STI and cervical cell atypia underlines the opinion that they should be advised to attend the same gynecological check-ups and cervical screening programs as heterosexual women.

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