Poll: Are patients comfortable having a male gynecologist?


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Columnist Nanette Nkolomoni debates the topic of whether or not men should practice obstetrics and gynecology because of the potential of making women feel uncomfortable in certain situations.

By Nanette Nkolomoni, Opinion Columnist

The number of men entering the field of obstetrics and gynecology (OB-GYN) is decreasing while the number of women entering the field is increasing, according to the National Library of Medicine; in 2019, nearly 84% of residents in obstetrics and gynecology were female. This is a drastic difference compared to 1975 when women made up only 16% of residents. 

In an article made by the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Jerome Chelliah, one of the three male OB-GYN residents at Kaiser Santa Clara out of a total of 16, narrates his experience as a male OB-GYN. 

At times, as soon as Dr. Chelliah walks into the room, he said he is rejected by patients who would rather have a female doctor instead. 

“I’ve been rejected many times over. As a person of color, I face discrimination in other ways but not so blatant …  People have no problem saying they don’t want you,” Dr. Chellilah said.

The fear of rejection or what some would consider gender discrimination from patients could discourage men from becoming gynecologists. 

Some individuals may just feel more comfortable having a female doctor than a male doctor, especially when they’re going to the doctors for their sexual and reproductive health. 

A patient’s choice to prefer a female doctor over a male doctor should not be a problem if they feel more understood and comfortable.

Sheila Chhutani, M.D., MBA, of GynOb Associates, said in an article published by Health eCareers that “[Women] feel most female physicians are more empathetic. Sometimes it is for a comfort level since patients are in a vulnerable position during a pelvic exam. Lastly, an exam may be gentler since most women have smaller hands than their male counterparts.”

Conchita Bernollia, a patient, said she felt the men who cared for her while going through labor couldn’t understand her pain. “Even if they don’t have kids, I believe women, we all go through the same particular suffering.” 

Some people might not understand why a man would even want to be a gynecologist and some might consider men creepy or odd for wanting to pursue that particular field. The simple fact that males cannot experience labor pain nor have female anatomy could be considered enough reason for some to say men shouldn’t be gynecologists. 

What do you think?

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Are you comfortable having a male gynecologist?


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