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Pap Smears, HPV and Cervical Cancer

Lesbians require regular pap smear screening at the current screening guidelines used for heterosexual women. This point bears repeating as lesbian and bisexual women receive less Pap screening than do heterosexual women[17], in part due to physicians omitting routine gynecological testing under the assumption that lesbian women don’t need screening[13]. All women require regular pap smear screening at intervals recommended by the current screening guidelines[13] [16] [18].

The risk factors for cervical cancer are multiple male partners or partners who have had multiple sex partners, 1st intercourse at an early age, unprotected sex, and infection with the human papilloma virus (HPV). Lesbian women are at risk for cervical cancer because many have had intercourse with men and because HPV can still be transmitted from woman to woman[5] [16] [11] [2].


2. Roberts SJ. Lesbian health research: a review and recommendations for future research. Health Care for Women International. 2001;22:537-552.

5. Peterkin A, Risdon C. Caring for Lesbian and Gay People: A Clinical Guide. 2003. University of Toronto Press Incorporated. Toronto, Ontario.

11. Solarz, AL Ed. Lesbian Health: Current Assessment and Directions for the Future. Washington DC. National Academy Press; 1999.

13. Anonymous [Council on Scientific Affairs, American Medical Association]. Health care needs of gay men and lesbians in the United States. Journal of the American Medical Association. 1996;275(17):1354-1359.

16. Lee R. Health care problems of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender patients. Western Journal of Medicine. 2000;172:403-408.

17. Valanis BG, Bowen DJ, Bassfort T, Whitlock E, Charney P, Carter RA. Sexual orientation and health: comparisons in the women's health initiative sample. Archives of Family Medicine. 2000;9(9):843-53.

18. Hughes C, Evans A. Health needs of women who have sex with women. British Medical Journal. 2003;327:939-940.

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