Examining sexual health differences between lesbian, gay, bisexual, and heterosexual adults: the role of sociodemographics, sexual behavior characteristics, and minority stress

J Sex Res. 2011 Mar;48(2-3):263-74. doi: 10.1080/00224491003654473.


Many studies focus on the differences in mental health between lesbian, gay, bisexual (LGB), and heterosexual individuals. Less attention has been paid to the differences in various aspects of sexual health and the potential explanations for these differences. Data from a Dutch population study on sexual health (aged 19-70 years; N = 4,333) were used to examine the potential differences in sexual satisfaction, sexual victimization, sexual dysfunction, and sexual health care need. At the same time, this study examined whether the differences could be attributed to differences in general factors influencing sexual health (sociodemographic variables and sexual behavior characteristics) or to LGB-specific factors (minority stress). The results showed that bisexual women and bi- and homosexual men had more often experienced sexual coercion and reported a higher need for sexual health care than their heterosexual counterparts. Both general determinants (e.g., a higher number of sexual partners or being single) and LGB-specific factors (e.g., internalized homonegativity or negative social reactions related to sexual orientation) were associated with different aspects of sexual health. Interventions aimed at improving the sexual health of LGB individuals should focus on general risk factors, as well as on LGB-specific stressors. Methodological limitations of the study and implications for further research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Heterosexuality / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Female / psychology*
  • Homosexuality, Male / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Health*
  • Netherlands
  • Sexual Behavior / physiology*
  • Stress, Psychological*
  • Young Adult