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There is no denying the fact that we all suffer from hardships throughout our lives. Now imagine if these hardships were topped with discriminatory remarks from people around you, constant questioning or dismissing your gender or sexuality, and well—even physical assault, how would you feel?
If you’re an LGBTQ reader, chances are that you have faced such issues. However, if you’re a heterosexual reader, you’ve got to know how these problems faced by the LGBTQ members can actually stem into severe health issues and trouble them for life.
Check out these six most common health issues the LGBTQ members are more likely to suffer from:
1. Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
A study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior reported significantly higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and STI risk behaviours in gay men, lesbian women, and bisexual men and women; compared to those, who engage in opposite-sex sexual relations.
The reason might be as simple as the idea that sex, to most people, only means penis penetration into the vagina/anus. Hence, any sexual behaviour that differs from this conventional definition might not garner enough attention for the LGBTQ members to be made aware of taking adequate precautions while engaging in any sexual activity.
Additionally, factors such as intravenous drug use, exchanging sex for money, more lifetime sexual partners, and unprotected opposite-sex relationships, can also be blamed for their higher chance of getting an STI.
2. Substance abuse
As per a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults tend to indulge in alcohol consumption and smoking more heavily than heterosexual adults. The reason cited for this disparity is the fact that they tend to use substance abuse to cope with the discrimination that they face for their sexuality and gender as well as homophobia.
The same study also revealed how bisexual and lesbian women are more likely to be overweight due to the higher levels of distress that they face. Now, most of you already know how the stress can lead to a release of cortisol hormone, which can basically goof up your entire endocrine system leading to a hormonal imbalance, and might even increase your appetite or slow down the metabolism. So, be kind, okay?
4. Eating disorders
In case it isn’t already clear how the discrimination against LGBTQ members can pose a severe threat to their overall health, other reasons such as their higher likelihood of being bullied, facing violence or assault, facing negative remarks which give way to body-image issues can contribute to the feeling of guilt, shame, and self-doubt. While some people resort to substance abuse to cope with it, many LGBTQ members turn to binge eating to make themselves feel better. According to a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, gay men were 7 times more likely to indulge in binge eating and transgender students were 5 times more likely to suffer from an eating disorder as compared to their heterosexual peers.
5. Chronic health issues
From obesity and diabetes to cardiovascular diseases and blood pressure problems, the higher likelihood of suffering from an eating disorder (especially binge eating) and constant stress, also makes LGBTQ members more likely to suffer from these health issues.
In fact, a study conducted at the University of Washington found that bisexual women were more likely to face chronic health issues such as strokes, asthma, and heart attacks, compared to heterosexual women.
6. Depression and anxiety
As per a 2017-study published in the journal Cureus, “sexual minority adolescents report a greater incidence of mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and increased suicidal behaviours than heterosexual adolescents.”
This is because they’re more likely to be isolated from the regular ‘social circle’ and are also highly likely to have suffered from the post-traumatic stress of a physical assault at some point coupled with bullying and negative self-image.
The biggest and the only way to help the LGBTQ members is simpler than you think. All you’ve got to do is to stop being a jerk to them and treat them as decently as you should treat a fellow human being. If you’ve paid attention to the above, you might have registered that most of their health issues stem from deteriorating mental health. If you truly want to be an ally, you simply have to be supportive. This might lead to their mental health improving and that could contribute to their overall health flourishing as well.
However, if you’re an LGBTQ member reading this article, just know that what someone else thinks of you isn’t your reality. Continue being yourself without being apologetic!