Healthy Bis?

BCN 124 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 124, April 2014

‘Beyond Babies & Breast Cancer – Expanding our understanding of women’s health needs’ is a new report for all those interested in health service provision for bi and lesbian women, published by Manchester-based Lesbian & Gay Foundation.

A bit like the Bisexuality Report, this isn’t new research. It’s a large-scale research review of over seventy pieces of research from Britain and across the globe, with a lot of figures from places like the USA and Scandanavia where there isn’t appropriate research from the UK yet.

It reviews the evidence on a wide range of health issues. There are the more perhaps predictable things to talk about as queer people’s health issues – alcohol, smoking and drugs, sexual health and mental health. It also explores issues like coronary heart disease, ageing and end of life care, domestic violence and abuse, fertility, pregnancy and parenting

It brings together evidence from many different sources including large-scale general population studies, smaller scale community studies and qualitative research to paint a vivid picture of the health needs of lesbian and bisexual women and of their experiences of accessing health care.

Pleasingly, it frequently separates out bisexual and lesbian experience – sometimes highlighting some stark differences. The health needs of bisexual women are sometimes doubly hidden, subsumed within information on ‘women’s health’ and information on the health needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in general. Indeed this is a general problem with information about bi life which is just starting to be addressed by researchers.

Looking at some of the differences you can’t help feeling the best advice to someone questioning their orientation would be “don’t be bi” – as some of the statistics shown in the graphs here reflect, while individual experiences vary widely taken collectively bi women’s experience can be worse than that of either gay or straight women.

If you would like a paper copy of the report, email [email protected] or call 0845 330 3030. Alternatively download it as a pdf from www.lgf.org.uk/women