Published on June 14, 2022

Health Disparities in the LGBTQ+ Community

Rainbow Flag with Stethoscope

Every June, Pride Month festivities take place across the nation. While it’s a time for celebration, it’s also a great time to raise awareness. The LGBTQ+ community has historically faced a series of disparities when it comes to health care.

Throughout history, stigmatization and discrimination have been prevalent toward those in the LGBTQ+ community. Factors including demographics, legal barriers to care, lack of research and stigmas in society have all played a role.

In the past, health care providers may not have been educated on or aware of the specific needs and concerns of LGBTQ+ patients. In addition, this may have perpetuated concerns from this community of patients on whether their health care needs could be properly addressed and cared for.

As an OB/GYN, I understand that there are certain health issues that are more prevalent among lesbian and bisexual women compared to heterosexual women. For example, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, HPV and cervical cancer occur more often in lesbian and bisexual women. This could be because lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to see a health care provider for preventive care and screenings, such as mammograms and pap smears.

To address these disparities and assure that everyone, regardless of gender or sexual orientation has a safe place to receive quality health care, it’s important that health care providers continue to be trained in clinical competence, understand some of the disparities they may face within their patient populations and how to appropriately address them and understand specific LGBTQ+ patient questions and concerns.

Together, we can create a positive environment where each patients’ unique health care needs are addressed and cared for.

Obstetrician/Gynecologist Shawna Ruple, M.D., sees patients at MidMichigan Obstetrics & Gynecology in Midland and performs procedures and delivers babies at MyMichigan Medical Center Midland and MyMichigan Medical Center West Branch. Dr. Ruple specializes in routine and problem gynecology care, gynecologic surgery, prevention of female reproductive cancers, birth control options, caring for women while pregnant and more.