Bisexuality is often misunderstood or not taken seriously. Discrimination exists within the LGBT community and from heterosexuals. A bisexual person might be viewed as someone who can’t make up their mind about their true sexuality or as someone who is promiscuous, having little or no sexual boundaries. More than half of the 3.5 percent of adults in the U.S. who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are, in fact, bisexual. They face unique health concerns that deserve our attention.
Some health concerns faced by bisexuals:
- Substance abuse – According to research, bisexual women have higher rates of drug use than heterosexual women and close to or possibly higher rates than lesbians. The differences between bisexual and gay men have not been clear in studies.
- Alcohol use – Bisexual women have reported higher rates of alcohol use, abuse and alcohol related problems compared to lesbians and heterosexual women.
- Sexual health – Bisexual women have reported riskier behavior with sex, compared to heterosexual and lesbian women. Part of this risk comes from the highest rate reported of combining substance/alcohol use and sexual activity. Bisexual men who have sex with men have an increased risk of HIV infection.
- Tobacco use – Bisexual women smoke at higher rates than heterosexual women, but about the same as lesbians. Less is known about bisexual men’s smoking habits.
- Cancer – Bisexual women have reported higher rates of cancer. Some risk factors are: not having given birth (also relevant to a higher rate of lesbians), or being more likely to give birth after age 30, and alcohol consumption. Also, bisexual women receive mammograms and pap tests at the lowest rates. Men or women who receive anal sex are at a higher risk for anal cancer because of an increased rate of HPV infection.
- Nutrition/fitness/weight – Bisexual and lesbian women have higher rates of obesity than heterosexual women and more bisexual women are underweight than heterosexual women or lesbians, which would indicate they might be more likely to struggle with healthy eating. Attempts to achieve perfect bodies, due to pressure, have left some gay and bisexual men with adverse health consequences. They might compulsively exercise, use steroids or develop eating disorders due to a poor body image.
- Heart disease – Higher rates of heart disease have been reported by bisexual women compared to heterosexual women.
- Depression/anxiety – Bisexual men and women have reported higher levels of anxiety and depression than heterosexuals and sometimes higher than gay men and lesbians. The issues are likely to be more severe for those who lack social support and those who are unable or unwilling to disclose their sexuality.
- Social support/emotional well-being – Bisexual women have reported the lowest levels of social support. Bisexual men and women have the lowest emotional well-being of any sexual orientation group.
- Self-harm/suicide attempts – Bisexual women and men have reported higher levels of suicide attempts, self-harm and suicidal thoughts than heterosexuals and higher than gay men and lesbians in some studies.
Dr. M. Mirza, lgbt health wellness .com – 2015