Healthy You - Every Day

Coming Out to Your Doctor as an LGBTQ Patient

Starting the conversation will help improve your health care


For patients who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ), opening up to your physician is key to getting personalized health care. Even though discussing sexual orientation and gender identity with your doctor is not always easy, sharing this information is vital to your health, says family medicine physician Beth Careyva, MD, with LVPG Family Medicine–Easton Avenue.

“It’s important to open up about sexual orientation and gender identity,” Careyva says. “By providing this information, we can make sure to offer preventative care screenings, as well as provide counseling on sexual health, lifestyle changes, and same-sex family planning.”

If you are ready to come out to your doctor, Careyva offers these tips:

Be proactive

Careyva encourages LGBTQ patients to start the conversation with their physician, instead of waiting for the subject to present itself. If it helps, consider bringing a partner, friend or family member to the visit. "At the appointment, simply say, ‘I think it’s important that you know this about me, to provide me with the best health care’,” Careyva says.

Choose a provider with LGBTQ health care experience

Lehigh Valley Health Network hospitals in the Lehigh Valley (LVH–Cedar CrestLVH–MuhlenbergLVH–17th Street and LVHN–Tilghman) are Top Performers on the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) 2019.

HEI is the national benchmarking tool that evaluates health care facilities’ commitment to the equity and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. Health care facilities are evaluated based on:

  • Non-discrimination policies and practices
  • Patient care services for members of the LGBTQ community
  • Colleague policies and benefits
  • Patient and community engagement

Discuss confidentiality

When patients and doctors discuss sexual orientation or gender identity, confidentiality should be part of that conversation. It is ultimately the patient’s choice whether or not to formally add that information to their medical chart. However, Careyva reminds LGBTQ patients that making personal information accessible to other members of the health care team allows for the best possible care.

“At the end of the day, every patient has a choice about what they want to communicate and with whom,” Careyva says. “Our goal is simply to provide the best care for each and every patient.”

Schedule an appointment with a specially-trained LGBTQ-knowledgeable provider

Call 888-402-LVHN or visit and search “LGBTQ.” You’ll notice that our LGBTQ-knowledgeable providers will have any of the following terms listed under their Areas of Focus:

  • LGBTQ Patient Support
  • LGBTQ Patients and Families
  • Transgender Health

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