A Trip To The Doctors: Nightmare Or Not?
Health care professionals recommended by Curve readers.
Last year, I went to Thailand on my honeymoon. It was perfect, and lying on the beach beside my wife with a cocktail in my hand, I really felt like we were in paradise.
Just a couple of weeks before, a million miles from Bangkok, I was lying on a table in a doctor’s surgery in North Edinburgh waiting to get vaccinated against all manner of terrible diseases before our trip. The nurse, a white-haired woman with a permanent frown, peered across me while she got the needles ready. “Thailand” she said, as I clenched my fists, preparing myself for the injections. “Are you going with friends, or a boy…?”
I had a horrible knot in my stomach, that feeling LGBT people are all too familiar with. Should I lie and spare a potentially awkward moment or suck it up and tell the truth?
Most health care professionals these days are trained in LGBT specific issues and don’t look phased at all when you tell them you’re going on honeymoon with your civil partner, which is kind of like your wife, but not quite. I wasn’t so lucky. My nurse looked a bit bewildered, but she didn’t say anything, and we carried on silently, avoiding eye contact for the rest of the appointment.
Thank goodness I didn’t have to share anything personal with her. I can’t imagine telling that nurse that my wife and I were thinking of starting a family or asking for guidance on which fertility clinic to use.
For many, taking those initial steps can be an incredibly daunting process and there are so many questions to be answered.
How much is it going to cost and how long might it take? Should you use assisted reproductive technology (ART)? What are the differences between IUI and IVF? Do you want to try home insemination with a known donor? Have you or your partner had problems with your fertility? Is your doctor understanding of your needs as a lesbian and do you know if they will treat you with the dignity and respect that you and your family deserve?
I wouldn’t even know where to begin. There is so much misinformation around finding the right clinic to guide you, and that can be the key to a successful conception.
Sadly, that often becomes a zip code lottery. If you don’t have a clinic in your area that is knowledgeable and supportive, it can be a nightmare experience, like that of Curve reader Kim Flowers. She said, “Whilst trying to get advice from my former doctor about conceiving, he kept trying to push for me to have sex with our donor. I never went back to him.”
It isn’t only the subject of fertility, but sexuality can be a hurdle as well. Research suggests that lesbian and bisexual women are less likely to seek advice on a wide range of medical issues and are therefore at greater risk of developing heart disease, cancer and mental health problems like depression.
A recent report by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health found lesbian and bisexual women were less likely to have regular screenings for breast and cervical cancer.
They said, “This may be due to lesbians’ and bisexuals’ lack of health insurance, fear of discrimination, or bad experiences with health care professionals.”
Thankfully, Kim found another doctor, and more and more medical professionals are being trained in dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients, which will hopefully ease the concerns of those lesbian and bisexual women wary of health care professionals.
Curve readers recently shared their own personal stories on our Facebook page and most were overwhelmingly positive.
Miranda Ross recommended Dr. Loret De Mola from the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield, Illinois. She said, “They helped us choose a sperm bank and took us through the whole process. We were treated no differently than anyone else. Our beautiful son was born two weeks ago.” (siumed.edu)
Julie Clark had a great experience with Reproductive Medicine Associates of Michigan. She said, “Dr. Wolf, Dr. Miller and Dr. Shah [are] all amazing physicians. Nursing staff [are] fantastic, knowledgeable and professional. The whole office – supportive to couples trying to have a baby. Would highly recommend them.” (rmami.com)
While in Boston, Alix Her said, “Fenway Community Health Center is amazing. They are not just friendly, most of their staff are LGBT and [are] all about serving the community.” (fenwayhealth.org)
Fenway is setting a great example. Their mission is to “enhance the wellbeing of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and all people in our neighborhoods and beyond through access to the highest quality health care, education, research and advocacy.” Working with the American College of Physicians, they also published the nation’s first medical textbook focused specifically on LGBT people.
Do you have any recommendations? Please share them with us!