Friday, June 14, 2013

Why Male Gynecologists Creep Me Out

Nobody seems to find this as big of a deal as I do. "What's the problem?" they ask me when I say that I don't like male gynecologists. "Why do you care? A doctor's a doctor."

Except, a male gynecologist is not a female gynecologist. A male doctor may have more experience with vaginas and cervixes and all of the other female bits and pieces in his practice than his female counterpart. He may have saved hundreds of lives, delivering thousands of babies and helping women for dozens of years, and that's fabulous. (In fact, thank God for male gynecologists because they have saved our gender through many generations where women weren't ALLOWED to actually doctor themselves.)

But try though he might to empathize with a woman, here is a newsflash:

A male gynecologist has never actually owned a vagina. 

Imagine you have a very special vehicle. It is your BABY, to be honest. You've pampered this car for your entire adulthood and it is everything you have ever wanted in a car. You bring it into the mechanic to have some work done and ask some questions about how it's been running lately. This mechanic has inspected every single curve of many cars. He knows all of the details of dozens of makes and models. Maybe he even grew up in a family garage of fantastic mechanic.

That mechanic can "quote" to you the way it's SUPPOSED to feel when you push your foot down on the brake pedal verbatim, but this particular mechanic has Never DRIVEN A CAR.

He has never known the fear you have when your brakes suddenly go smooshy on the highway while you're cruising along at 65 mph.

He has never had a flat tire on the side of the road on a dark, abandoned highway.

He has never known the pain of making hundreds of car payments and finally paying it off, only to have it sputter and die on I-55.

Tell me the truth: Would you REALLY take your vintage vehicle, your prized possession, your ultimate dream car to a person who has NEVER DRIVEN A CAR??

So why the hell would I choose a doctor who has NO FLIPPING CLUE what menstrual cramps or other vagina-related-issues feels like??

*Have I mentioned that I kinda sorta have "issues" with doctors in general?
*Inspired by a comment that I began on a random blog...


Kat said...

Ha! I understand what you're saying, but from my experience male gynos are actually much more sympathetic than female gynos. The women just tend to think, "toughen up" because they've been through it. The men (I have a male gyno) have not been through it, know they have nothing that compare to it, and respect it more. Know what I mean?
I love my doctor. He is a hoot! said...

Kat, No. I do not. I've never had a sympathetic male gyne, to be honest.

Joy said...

I've had crappy male doctors, and female ones, but the truly shittiest and most damaging comment that was ever made to me in relation to "female problems" was by a snotty, bitchy female intern*. I was so irate and put off by her comments at a time when I was foundering that I delayed seeking further treatment for a couple of years, until I got mad again, and saw a truly sympathetic doctor.

So, I am in the 'find a good doctor' camp, regardless of gender. Both genders serve up good and bad docs, in my experience.

*I may or may not still be harbouring a grudge against said female doctor.

Sabrina said...

I agree. You just have been seeing the wrong male docs. And I know girly bit issues.

korinthia said...

I don't think there is a way to not feel creeped out at the gynecologist, regardless of the sex of the doctor. It's all just weird.

That said, you might be interested to know that in my profession as a violin maker, it's rather unusual that I also play. I always think it's sort of odd that more builders and repair people don't play violin until I cut one of my fingertips on the day of a concert and think, "Oh yeah! That's why! Sharp tools and playing violin don't mix!"

Nicoletta said...

I love this blog

Cori said...

My son's neurologist has never had autism, so should I not trust his medical knowledge? My optometrist has never had a degenerative eye disease, he's still probably going to be the first person I turn to if I should have an issue. The fact of the matter is that you don't have to experience something first hand to learn about it and learn how to treat it. I personally don't care about the sex of my doctors, even my OB/GYNs. I've had great male and female OBs and gynos, and terrible ones of both sexes. Never have I thought, "It's because they're a man/woman." It's usually a personality trait or habit that is either awesome or awful, and it has nothing to do with their gender.

Though I understand why some women are more comfortable with female gynos, there's no reason to discredit male doctors who are well educated and dedicated to their specialty.

Unknown said...

I get the general idea, but this whole topic is asinine. The flaw is finding a doctor that can In your words "empathize" with you is crazy. All oncologists should have experienced cancer in order to be a good doctor? Cardiologists should go through a heart bypass to know what their patients feel? Your reasoning is just ignorant at best.

Anonymous said...

I, too, am in the "find a good doctor" camp. Most important in a good gynecologist? Tiny hands and warm lube. My ob/gyn was fantastic. Male, and every time I saw him he would say, "I have delivered babies for 25 years, and every day am more amazed by the strength women have. Anyone who says women don't have higher pain thresholds than men should witness what you go through." Big heart, tiny hands. Safely delivered my two children, and saved my life during the second delivery.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...had both. Had both deliver my babies. Am also a nurse for decades. Still feellike only the female doc that carried twins understood how I felt during my 7-week bed rest for twins, and only my regular female doc understands how freaking painful cervical biopsies are...d&c's...or any invasive exams. Sorry, male docs!!!

Heather S said...

If that mechanic could fix that car better than anyone else? Yes. Regardless of the superfluous emotion. Same with my vagina. I'm going to go with an experienced medical professional who will help me with whatever problem I need help with the best.

Unknown said...

Give me a female Gyno any day any time any place over a male. At least here in the South anyway. If you call Oklahoma the South..ok so we are the heartland. But before I found Ms Gyno, I was perfectly happy with my Mr Gyno. He delivered my child, did yearly exams. All was well in the world until he decides it was time to remove a pesky mole that was not bothering me but sure was bothering him because it was "down there." Hmmm it maybe a vaginal wart. We need to remove that and send it to the lab. So I'm up in the stirrups waiting for a numbing shot. hmmm? what? Oh no you won't need that, it will hurt just as bad as the little snip. oh god Oh God, OH GOD! Ok breathe in, breath out. In comes a generic looking cooper can, it looks like an old timey oil squirt can. It had a flexible tube on the end of it about the width of a drinking straw and it touches my mole. Then something came out of it. And it felt like the miniature little chompy mouth thing of the big chompy mouth thing of the Alien in the freaking movie ALIEN! And Chomp it went. Scuuuuureeeeammmm!!! for 10 secs and it was over. Shewwww it's done. Oh no, wrong. Time to make the bleeding stop cause he took a hunk out of me about the size of a pencil eraser...some sort of cauterizing acid. Yeouch f****ing ouch. shewwww Ok now its over I can get up and leave the chamber of horrors. Oh wait! The room is spinning, I'm going to pass out. I crawl back on the bed to notice that there is an outline of sweat that escaped me. You can see where I was laying by the outline of my sweat! Water please!! Water, Water! Fan and Water! 5 mins pass and I'm good. Then Asshole...errr ummm Mr Gyno has the nerve to say...How in the world did you handle natural child birth? To which I replied, Fuck you! You were there, I did it without drugs and 6 hrs of labor and if you weren't wearing a tie, I'd be ripping every chest hair out by the fistful right now you arrogant son of a bitch. He turns around and leaves and the nurses smirk and the last one to leave asks me if I'd like to find another Gyno. Why yes, I think that would be lovely. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I am a female family practice physician who does a ton of well woman exams. I am also of the opinion that after you've looked at this many vaginas, you've seen them all. Some women physicians can be incredibly crass, unfeeling, etc., while some male physicians can be very empathic. I am, of course, very empathic, lol. But I don't think you need a vagina to take care of one.

Rea Ball said...

My son was delivered by a male doctor. I adored this doctor because he never tried telling me I was being irrational or what I was feeling was normal, because he didn't know! HA!
My husband's vasectomy? Done by a female doctor. I kind of feel like we're totally even now, because we've both had under the hood work done by the opposite sex and we've lived to tell the tales.
Except, we're not even because I was pregnant for 39 weeks and 2 days (yes, I do exactly how long I was pregnant for) and he was only shot in the nuts 3 times to get his vasectomy done.

I had one female doctor, a new one, look at my medical history and ask me if I was really sure I had no STD's. I've never had a male doctor be so rude to my face about anything!

chicquilter said...

I honestly felt this way for years, even down to the car analogy. Since the age of 18 I never saw any male doctors, GYN or otherwise. When I needed a referral to a gynecologic oncologist at age 36, my GYN referred me to a male doctor whom she interned for. She was adamant that he was the best of the best and had even treated her mother. I have never been so scared in my life as the day I went through surgery with him. I don't know why he got into the field, but it was one of the best experiences I have ever had with a treatment provider. He was sympathetic, caring, and abided by every request I had. I still see him every six months for follow ups, and I'm glad I got over my initial resistance. He treated me more conservatively than I anticipated, and he really was the best of the best. I can say without reservation that his gender was irrelevant. Not that I go to male doctors in general, but it's less of a qualifier for me--other female GYNs have been far more judgmental and/or abrupt.

Anonymous said...

this is like saying you wouldn't want any physician to treat you for any ailment they've never suffered themselves. i don't need my oncologist to have had cancer, my physical therapist to be missing a limb or my hospice nurse to have passed away for me to believe they can do as good a job as any.

Sarah said...

I used to insist - INSIST - upon female gynecologists... until my regular gyno wasn't available for another 3 months, I was out of BCP, and my insurance wouldn't allow a refill without an exam. So I could either choose to wait it out and go to condoms, or take an appointment with her new male practice partner next week. I pep-talked myself up and finally accepted the male gyno appointment. It would just be the once, right? The wicked day arrived and I went into the office, full of nerves. I resignedly got into my hospital gown and waited for the self-important male gyno to arrive. Imagine my surprise when a young man walked into the room, as gay as the day is long. All fear? Gone. I still prefer my female OB/GYN for the same reasons you cite in the article, but Dr. Fabulous will do in an emergency any day.

Anonymous said...

I finally made the switch after being advised by one male gyno that if I wasn't going to use my reproductive parts to actually reproduce, I should just get a hysterectomy. ???wth??? I looked at him & asked, "You wouldn't say that to a priest, now would you?" Shut him right up. Such ignorance. I got a great recommendation from a friend of mine & switched to a wonderful gynecologist (female) and still see her when needed. She's outstanding & NO stupid questions or advisements from her!

jen @ and two more makes FIVE said...

I love this post and love you delving into the reasons behind your preference for female OB/GYNs! For those negative commenters…we’re supposed to be picky, irrational and a little neurotic when we choose our doctors…it’s an incredibly personal choice. If you’re not at least a little bit weird as to why you like a doctor, it probably doesn’t matter enough to you. The critical thing is that you feel comfortable enough to be 110% honest with whatever doctor you choose.

For example, there’s two high-risk OBs at the hospital where I delivered both of my pregnancies. (Both make, by the way, so if you develop prenatal issues, you have to see a guy unless you switch hospitals.) The one doctor was detached, cold and (in my opinion) insensitive. The other was kindhearted, connected and empathetic. Both were incredibly talented, competent and skilled doctors. Had won awards in their fields. Were equally as capable of caring for me. But I absolutely hated the first doctor and loved the second, based on personality alone, without regard to level of care. But, then, the doctor I liked probably could take better care of me because I felt like I could connect to him and – resultantly – would be more open and honest, giving him more information, so he could make better decisions.

This is a topic I love! I’ve ditched so many doctors, simply because there wasn’t the right chemistry between us. Most people don’t care enough to find a doc they connect with and, as a result, they usually have poorer healthcare.

Anonymous said...

If it were up to me men wouldn't even allowed to be gynecologists, as unpopular as that opinion may be. Sure there are some good male gynecologists, but there is also a lot of really bad ones, ones who abuse their position of power over their patients, feel entitled to women's bodies, and sexually abuse their patients.
It isn't often discussed in the media or even among women with each other, but sexual abuse in gynecology is absolutely rampant. I didn't know that either until I was the victim of one of those kinds of gynecologists and sought out a support group to help me process the trauma I'd been through, when I found a group I realized that sadly a lot of women are sexually abused by their doctors, most of the time it's a male doctor, and more often than not a male gynecologist. Personally I've never been back to a male doctor, and I will always strongly advocate for women avoiding male gynecologists.

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