Healthy You - Every Day

Coming Out to Your Doctor as an LGBTQ+ Patient

Starting the conversation will help improve your health care

Coming out to your doctor

National Coming Out Day is an annual observance to acknowledge and support individuals in the LGBTQ+ community as they share their authentic identities with their loved ones, friends and others with whom they interact.

For patients who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ+), opening up to your physician about your sexual orientation and gender identity can feel uncomfortable, yet can be the best way to get personalized health care to meet your specific needs. Even though discussing these parts of your 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 for your clinicians to know as much as you are comfortable sharing about your sexual orientation and gender identity,” Dr. Careyva says. “By you providing us this information, we can make sure to offer appropriate preventive care screenings, as well as provide counseling on sexual health and other topics such as same-sex family planning.”

As a family medicine physician, Susan Medalie, DO, with LVPG Family Medicine–Schuylkill Medical Plaza and LVPG Obstetrics and Gynecology–Red Horse Road, enjoys getting to know all the aspects of her patients’ lives so that she can better understand and identify what might be causing concerns for them across their lifespans. “My job is getting to know the whole person and offer services that support all aspects of who they are.” She has particular interest and experience in caring for patients in the LGBTQ+ community in her Schuylkill practices.

If you are ready to come out to your doctor, Dr. Careyva and Dr. Medalie offer these tips:

Be proactive

Dr. 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’,” Dr. Careyva says.

“Sometimes, I find patients are more comfortable writing out what they want to tell me prior to their visit,” Dr. Medalie adds.

Choose a provider with LGBTQ+ health care experience

Lehigh Valley Health Network hospitals (LVH–Cedar CrestLVH–Muhlenberg and LVH-Pocono ) are LGBTQ+ Leaders on the Healthcare Equality Index (HEI) 2022.

The HEI is a 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 to formally add that information to their medical chart. However, Dr. 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,” Dr. Careyva says. “Our goal is simply to provide the best care for each and every patient.”

Schedule an appointment with an LGBTQ+-knowledgeable provider

Several LVHN clinicians provide services that are particularly helpful to individuals in the LGBTQ+ community and have had specific education in LGBTQ+ health. 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

LGBTQ+ Patient Support

For patients who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ+), you can find supportive care at Lehigh Valley Health Network.

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