February 14, 2015 by kittynh
Many of my female friends, both online and in real life, have mentioned that they would never be a patient of a male gynecologist. Among many reasons given:
“Because only a man would only want that job if he were a pervert.”
( I’ve countered with “Well what about lesbians? Do you refuse to see lesbian or bi sexual gynecologists also?”)
“Only a woman could truly understand female problems!”
( I’ve countered that with my own personal history with female gynecologists. I have had both male and female and the female ones have been much tougher and less sympathetic than the males. My male current male gynecologist will say “I don’t know personally what you are going through, but I’m going to try to help you.”)
“My husband doesn’t want another man touching me there.”
(My husband enjoys having another man explain “things” to him. I find he feels uncomfortable talking with another woman about my private parts, but he also would never ever dictate which doctor I choose to see. He knows if he ever made a suggestion about which doctor I choose to see, he would soon need a doctor himself.)
I’ve had a form of ovarian cancer. I remember saying to a female gynecologist groping mightily inside me “I don’t have an ovary there, if you look in my files I had a tumor board at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital.” She gave me a sort of far from understanding look and said “Well, many people DIE from THIS!” I did reply to her “Well yes, I just thought you should stop feeling around there for an ovary that you aren’t going to find.” She then went on and on with questions, which I pointed out she could find the answers to in my file. I also felt that an examination was perhaps not the best time for these questions. I want to look at the lovely mobile or photographs pinned to the ceiling, not talk, during the examination part. Finding my happy place in the old calendar photographs of beaches stuck to the ceiling is not helped by “So how large was this tumor?” interruptions.
My current male gynecologist when informed of my tumor replied “That certainly must have been a tough time. We’ll keep a close eye on you to look out for any recurrence.” He also always remembers I’m missing important parts and doesn’t go feeling or looking for them. Also the doctor who found and removed my tumor was a male doctor, who went out of his way to ensure I received the correct treatment. A sense of gratitude to this male physician and surgeon for saving my life will not allow me to condemn him because he has a penis.
My first child was delivered by a female. The delivery was at the Naval Hospital in Groton Connecticut. My daughter decided to come out elbow first. Also my doctor suggested that pain killers were just silly, and anyone could with Lamaze handle natural childbirth. I disagreed, but in the Navy, you were stuck with the doctor you were assigned. It should be noted this woman was a military officer. Rumors were she had been a Marine before switching over to medicine. It was not the most comfortable of births, not just because my husband was at sea, but because she kept telling me I really wasn’t in enough pain for any painkillers. When my daughter came out elbow first, there were a lot of stitches needed. This of course had nothing to do with the physician being male or female. It had to do with the doctor being a jerk.
Male, female, or transgender, a good doctor is about training, experience and empathy. It is also about how a patient interacts with the doctor. A good medical experience is a two way street. I just get along well with my current male doctor, and so does my husband. It’s a comfortable fit.
My next baby was delivered by my GP. Nice doctor and the entire family were patients. It was a much more relaxed birth, partly because he believed in pain management and also gave me enough sympathy that I felt heard, but not so much as to encourage me to whine more than necessary. Lovely birth with many happy memories. This despite the fact my daughter was born during a tornado warning. My doctor assured me he wouldn’t leave me, at least until he saw a funnel cloud.
My current doctor is the only male at a practice with women. All the other employees from Midwives to full doctors are females. However, I’m told he’s the most popular doctor. That’s because he’s just good. I mean really good. He’s been there with me in the middle of the night, leaning against a wall in weariness, assuring my husband and myself about a medical scare I’ve had. He returns calls, and counsels wisely. He was also the first OB/GYN my daughter went to. Trust is an important thing, and he has earned our trust.
I joke that my likes him as he gets along well with someone that can talk football scores and ovaries at the same time.
So why do men become gynecologists? I’ve asked a few of the male ones I’ve had over the years, and I’m sure their answers are much like their female counterparts. Delivering babies is something they enjoy. Some of the men have had fathers that were doctors or gynecologists. Many have mentioned a female family member, often their mother, who died young from breast cancer or an ovarian tumor. There is a sense that by helping their patients they are honoring their mothers. They all have an incredible respect for women.
I know when I had my second child, my husband looked at me in wonder afterward. He was so proud but also impressed I had pushed out that 10 pound baby. Women are strong, and no one knows that better than a doctor that delivers babies.
So, is a female gynecologist BETTER than a man? It all depends. While many women feel more comfortable with a woman, I am more comfortable with someone I feel truly cares and does a good job. Someone I feel confident about, but also is comforting. Right now that is a very nice male doctor. I would never discount a doctor because of their sex. My own personal experiences have been men are a better fit for me, but it is simply because I have been lucky enough they also happen to be excellent doctors.
One FB friend has declared she sees no reason why men are even allowed to become gynecologists, and this young feminist sees this as being a good ban to be enacted. This would keep the joy of delivering babies a female only preserve, as she believes it should be. I think, what gynecology needs is more practitioners that are capable, kind and able to afford the huge malpractice insurance bills.
Also to add to the confusion my GP is a female. We’re friends, recommend books and podcasts to each other, and I wouldn’t trade her for any other doctor. But I would still probably try a male OB/GYN first, simply because of my past personal experiences. That is rather a poor criteria for a skeptic to use, but when it comes to medicine the psychological is almost as important as the cold blooded skeptic approach. If a doctor is a good fit you somehow know it. If they aren’t, no logic in the world can make it so.
This is why alternative medicine still has such a hold over he public. They stress the relationship part, without bothering with the hard part like getting an education from a medical school. Reiki has slightly lower standards than any medical degree. I even once taught myself foot reflexology online for fun. I can cure your headache be putting pressure on the top of your big toe, but you have to believe I can for it to work.
The mix of being personable and caring, with skill and mastery of craft from years of education and hard work, is what I want in a doctor. Penis or vagina, or both, a good doctor is just a good doctor.