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LGBT+ health and wellbeing

Everyone's health is equally important – no one should face discrimination or poor treatment when accessing health or care services.

Health services for LGBT+ people

Healthcare services have a duty to provide care that's fair and equal. LGBT+ people face the same general health concerns as everyone else, though some issues disproportionately or specifically affect LGBT+ people. It's important to see a doctor if you're concerned about your health. If you've faced discrimination or poor treatment in the past, it's understandable to worry that it might happen again, but avoiding going back to your doctor could put your health at risk.

Every GP surgery should have a policy on equality and diversity, which you can ask to see at any time. Any information you share with NHS staff is confidential and there are strict laws to ensure health records are kept secure.

If you've been treated unfairly by a health service because of your sexual orientation or gender identity, you can make a complaint.

Find out more about making a complaint about NHS services on the NHS website

Sexual health and sexual health services for LGBT+ people

Unprotected sexual contact could put you at risk of a sexually transmitted infection (STI). The best way to prevent STIs is to practise safer sex, using condoms and dental dams. 

It's important to remember that STIs can also be transmitted through non-penetrative sex.

Not all STIs have symptoms, so it’s important to have regular sexual health check-ups. This generally means getting a sexual health check every time you change sexual partners. 

If you’d prefer not to see your usual doctor, you can make an appointment at a sexual health or genitourinary medicine (GUM) clinic. Some of these are drop-in centres where you don’t need an appointment.

Find your local sexual health clinic on the NHS website

LGBT+ mental wellbeing

If you're feeling out of sorts it can be difficult to talk about it. But lots of people in the UK are affected by a mental health problem – there's nothing to be ashamed about.

Although dealing with a mental health problem isn't just an inevitable part of ageing, research has shown that older LGBT+ people’s mental wellbeing can be affected if they've experienced years of prejudice across their life.

Symptoms of mental health problems are complex and vary widely – but they might include feeling sad or hopeless and losing interest in activities you previously enjoyed. There can also be physical symptoms such as sleeping too much or too little, changes to your appetite, and various aches and pains.

Talking to someone about how you’re feeling might seem daunting, but it can help you start to feel better. Whatever your situation, you don’t need to deal with it on your own.

There are lots of people who can help. Talking to someone is a good place to start – they might be grateful for the opportunity to talk, too. 

If you don't want to reach out to someone close to you, you can speak to your doctor. After listening to your symptoms, your doctor will discuss your treatment options with you. These might include self-help, lifestyle changes, prescribed medication or talking therapies.

If you'd prefer to speak to someone anonymously, either over the phone or online, organisations such as the Samaritans can help.

You can visit the Samaritans website for more information or call their helpline on 116 123. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 

Find out more about looking after your mental wellbeing

Telling services about yourself

Questions about your sexual orientation or gender identity should only ever be asked when they’re relevant to your care. In this case, although they can feel personal, and even intrusive, these questions help service providers know whether what they’re are offering is right for you.

If you’ve had negative experiences after sharing personal information in the past, it’s normal to worry it could happen again – but if how you identify remains hidden, there's a real risk that your needs remain hidden too.

It's up to you whether you want to disclose information about your sexual orientation or gender identity, and you have the right to ask why this information is being requested.

Health and public services are now very used to supporting LGBT+ people of all ages and backgrounds. There are also strict laws about confidentiality and privacy – as well as the Equality Act’s protections against discrimination. Any personal information you share must be kept private, and health and care workers must treat you fairly.

Find out more about your rights as an LGBT+ person

Living with dementia as an LGBT+ person

Living with dementia as an LGBT+ person can present certain challenges. For example, you might find it harder to remember who you've told about your sexual orientation or gender identity, or you might find accessing support more difficult.

The Alzheimer's Society has a booklet about living with dementia as an LGBT+ person. Click here to download Alzheimer's Society's booklet.

Phone icon We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 120 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 08 2024

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