What You Need to Tell Your Doctor If You are LGBT

If you have had a stroke, what do you need to tell your doctor if you are LGBT? The recent Supreme Court decision on gay marriage has increased formalized relationship options for many individuals. But, regardless of what you decide about whether or not you will be married, you might wonder how much your doctor needs to know about your sexual orientation and gender identity of you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Sometimes this type of information is relevant to your medical care, your healthcare coverage, who you give permission to have access to your medical information or who you designate as your emergency contact person. But sometimes you just might want the physician taking care of you to know more about you so that you don't feel that you are 'hiding.'

But, as with many people you interact with, you might also wonder if this information might be extraneous or if might even potentially complicate your doctor-patient interaction unnecessarily. Here are some guidelines for what your doctor needs to know about your sexual orientation and your gender identity.

Medical Care

*If you are gay

There are few illnesses that are statistically more prevalent among gay men and stroke is not one of them. But your physician identifies your medical condition based on your symptoms, your physical examination, and your diagnostic tests- regardless of whether the statistics say you are highly likely or not very likely to have an illness based on sexual orientation. When it comes to your diagnoses and treatment plan, you are an individual and your doctor will not 'lump' you into a category or diagnose you based on your demographics.

Therefore, it doesn’t affect your medical evaluation and treatment plan whether or not you choose to discuss your sexual orientation with your doctor.

*If you are lesbian

If you are a lesbian, there is not any difference in your health profile when it comes to a stroke. The only example in which your sexual orientation might be medically relevant is when it comes to plans for conceiving.

Whether or not you want to discuss your sexual orientation with your doctor is completely up to you and it has no impact on your diagnosis or treatment options.

*If you are bisexual

There is only a minor statistical difference noted among the bisexual population’s health when compared to the heterosexual population. Therefore, with the exception of obstetrical concerns, your sexual orientation is not medically relevant, particularly in light of a stroke.

You might want to mention your sexual preferences to your doctor or other members of the health care team, but if you don’t want to discuss it, it has no impact on your health.

*If you are transgender

In this instance, your doctor must know. There are significant differences between men and women when it comes to the likelihood of many medical conditions and in how those illnesses manifest. Additionally, if you are taking any hormone therapy, your risk of some illnesses may be affected. And any hormonal therapy you take can interact with your other prescriptions. So, your medication plan will need to be formulated in light of everything you regularly take - even if it is an herbal hormone formulation that you can obtain without a prescription.

However, if you are transgender, there is no need for you to explain your sexual preference to your health care team unless you want to.

Your Healthcare Coverage

When it comes to your healthcare coverage and whether you are covered under your spouse's plan, your physician and the people who personally care for your health have complete access to that information but rarely look at it.

On a more practical note, if you have changed your name, it is important to clarify this with your doctor's office to ensure seamless eligibility of your health coverage and medical records.

Your Emergency Contacts

You will be required to provide an emergency contact when you sign up for non-urgent medical care, in case you ever have an urgent situation in which someone needs to be informed or needs to make medical decisions on your behalf. Your physician is unlikely to look at this information unless there in an emergency. If your health care team needs to call your emergency contact, a member of your health care team will personally speak to your designated contact to describe the urgent situation. In such instances, health care professionals are focused on the medical situation at hand, and not on making personal judgments.

What should you tell your doctor?

Most people like to chat with their physicians about family life, work, and hobbies. You needn't worry that your physician will give you less than optimal care if he does not have the same views as you. Doctors are trained and required to provide the best possible care to all patients regardless of how similar or different the patient and doctor's lifestyle or beliefs are from each other.

And, even if your doctor has stereotyped ideas about people of any group, it is highly likely that your doctor could be pleasantly surprised by your interaction-  because doctors are constantly learning from each and every patient.

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