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Coming Out to Your Doctor as an LGBTQ Patient

For patients who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ), opening up to your physician is key to getting personalized health care. Even though discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with your doctor is not always easy, sharing this information is vital to your health, says family medicine physician Beth Careyva, MD, with LVPG Family Medicine–Easton Avenue.

“It’s important to open up about sexual orientation and gender identity,” Careyva says. “By providing this information, we can make sure to offer preventative care screenings, as well as provide counseling on sexual health, lifestyle changes, and same sex family planning.”

If you are ready to come out to your doctor, Careyva offers these tip:

Be proactive

Careyva encourages LGBTQ patients to start the conversation with their physician, instead of waiting for the subject to present itself. If it helps, consider bringing a partner, friend or family member to the visit. “At the appointment, simply say, ‘I think it’s important that you know this about me, to provide me with the best health care’,” Careyva says.

Choose a provider with LGBTQ health care experience

Some clinicians have more expertise in LGBTQ health care than others. When choosing a new provider, Careyva recommends asking around to see if an LGBTQ friend had a positive experience with specific physician or practice. No referrals? If you call the practice to make your first appointment, ask the scheduling person if any of their clinicians specializes in this area of health care. As an alternative, search online for LGBTQ resources in your community which may offer local health care information.

Discuss confidentiality

When patients and doctors discuss sexual orientation or gender identity, confidentiality should be part of that conversation. It is ultimately the patient’s choice whether or not to formally add that information to their medical chart. However, Careyva reminds LGBTQ patients that making personal information accessible to other members of the health care team allows for the best possible care.

“At the end of the day, every patient has a choice about what they want to communicate and with whom,” Careyva says. “Our goal is simply to provide the best care for each and every patient.”

If you are looking for a new health care provider, visit LVHN.org/Find_a_Doctor or call us at 888-402-LVHN (5846).