These Women Aren't Screened For HPV Nearly Enough

Nobody really likes going to the gynecologist, but it's a painful necessity so that we don't run the risk of missing something like, say, cervical cancer in its early stages. For homosexual women, however, that risk is significantly higher, and it's for the lamest reason: according to a recent review of existing research, lesbians are less likely to get screened for cervical cancer. That's right; because they don't get screened for HPV as often as heterosexual women, lesbians are more likely to have their cervical cancer go untreated, Cosmopolitan reports. Doctors have known for a while now that, if left alone, the human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, this used to be the leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Luckily, there's a pretty easy solution: the HPV vaccine is 99 percent effective if administered correctly, which is why it's so important for girls to get vaccinated at the right time. (Although it's recommended for 11- and 12-year-old girls, it can be administered up through age 26). Between the vaccine and the increase in regular Pap smears, the CDC reports that deaths from cervical cancer have decreased dramatically in the past 40 years. Even with the vaccine, however, it's important for everyone with a vagina to get screened regularly, no matter how uncomfortable it is to try and make small talk with the person who's literally jabbing at your cervix with a speculum.

<img title="Image: http://38.media.tumblr.com/5e9b4145951f7faac4144b263e6cdeef/tumblr_mvvdo6i0lG1sgl0ajo1_500.gif" class="article-body-image" src="http://38.media.tumblr.com/5e9b4145951f7faac4144b263e6cdeef/tumblr_mvvdo6i0lG1sgl0ajo1_500.gif" alt=""/>According to the review published in the Nurse Practitioner journal, however, lesbians are five to 18 percent less likely to get screened than heterosexual women. Despite what your first thought might be, it's not because there's a conspiracy of gynecologists who hate lesbians (although as recently as 2002, six percent of doctors reported being uncomfortable with treating LGBT patients). The discrepancy is due to a number of factors, but the majority of it goes back to the fact that they're not having sex with men and the assumptions that engenders.One of the few perks of being a lady who's into ladies, as co-author Joachim Voss points out, is that they're "less likely to need their doctors to prescribe birth control prescriptions or manage pregnancy," Cosmopolitan reports. Unfortunately, this also means they're less likely to get screened, by virtue of just never going to the doctor. Even when lesbian women do get checked out, however, they still might not get tested for HPV. The virus is transmitted primarily through heterosexual sex, so some doctors mistakenly assume that women who have sex with women don't need to worry about it. Aside from the fact research shows the majority of lesbians have actually had sex with men at some point, HPV can actually be transmitted through any number of other penis-less ways: oral sex, sex toys, etc. So what's the bottom line here? Everyone should get tested, no matter what their sexual orientation may be. (Check out the guidelines for how often you should be getting tested here.) Getting your cervix poked at is no fun, I know, but if you haven't been to the gynecologist in a while, it's time to ovary up and get it over with. Think of it as practice for your "small talk in uncomfortable situations" skills. Image: heckyeahreactiongifs/Tumblr