Do You Have a Preference: Female or Male Ob-Gyn?

Do You Have a Preference: Female or Male Ob-Gyn?

Maybe all women have a story to tell when the word gynecologist is mentioned in conversation. My first visit with this medical specialty was with a male OB-GYN, because I wanted a script for birth control. There were two doctors in the practice that my friends had recommended. I got the crabby older one. He had absolutely no “how to relate to a patient” skills. I got the script, but it was my sister-in-law who was able to answer my questions.

MAJOR CHANGES IN OB-GYN PRACTICE

Things are much different in the practice of OB-GYN now. When I had my first daughter, my doctor was male. Same for my second daughter and sadly both of these men have died. I cared about both of them. But when I wanted to be pregnant a third time, I sought the help of an infertility specialist, who also happened to be male. In that practice, there was a female OB, but I didn’t find her as warm and caring as my male physician. He cared for me during the infertility workups and then when I did become pregnant with my son. The two of us bonded throughout my journey and he and his wife are still very close friends to me and my husband.

SOME STATISTICS: A recent article in the LA Times considered major changes in the Ob-Gyn Practice. 

MANY REASONS FOR THE CHANGE

Women definitely had to fight for entrance into the once male-dominated world of medicine. Dr. Barbara Levy, who is now vice president for health policy in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) remembers: “Nobody was worried at all that there weren’t enough women in OB in the 1970s. Nobody paid any attention to us.” Addressing how the practice has changed, Levy says: “There are no right numbers or wrong numbers for what our specialty looks like.”

But women, when choosing a provider in this medical specialty, often prefer another woman. A recent analysis of a major shift occurring in the practice underlines that patients can legally discriminate by sex, race or any other factor when choosing a physician…And because of the intimacy factor that this practice requires, some women feel more comfortable talking with a woman and being examined by a woman.

THE CULTURE, PERSONAL EXPERIENCE, OPINIONS

I might not have found my first OB doctor to be warm—he was not and I never went back to him. But I wasn’t afraid of his being a male. Some young and possibly even older women are. They have their reasons.

One patient related: “He touched me and I immediately lost it. As soon as I had spread my legs, I was in a really vulnerable place and I didn’t want to be in that position with a male.”

Dr. Jerome Chelliah specifically chose OB-GYN because of the prospect of getting to know his patients, caring for them over time, helping them bring their children into the world. Doctors like Chelliah would never want their female patients to fear them.

Daniel Spinosa thought he wanted to be an oncologist, but while doing his OB-GYN rotation in medical school realized he could develop meaningful relationships with his patients. Other male doctors have stayed in the practice because their field is dedicated to LIFE, not DEATH, and they enjoy the unique mix of clinical and surgical work.

THERE CAN BE A NEGATIVE SIDE WITH EITHER GENDER

During the time I was a maternity nurse, I worked with medical students and residents at a tertiary care center in Chicago. And I witnessed these young men and women under incredible stress—no sleep, under the tutelage of older experienced physicians who often didn’t have the patience to teach, were worried about outcomes and shouted out confusing orders.

Some residents and interns rose to the occasion and I could see that they would become good doctors. And in my humble experience and opinion, there was no determinant that indicated one sex would do better than the other.

  • I had a patient in the delivery room, fully dilated and ready to push. Because the patient’s doctor was running late, the male resident decided it would be better if the women DID NOT DELIVER until the doctor arrived. He told me to tell the patient to PANT. You don’t tell a woman to PANT when she wants to PUSH—I told her to go ahead. She delivered, he did the work. Later, the doctor arrived and congratulated me on that call.
  • One night working with a difficult patient who had been spotting, I consulted with the female resident, suggesting that we discharge this woman because patient teaching was done and she was more than eager to go home. The resident said no. The patient became unglued, so I went over the resident’s head and called the attending on duty, presented the problem. He said to discharge the woman. The female resident chewed me out, insisting the woman would go home and drink, that I was weak around these patients!

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE?

If you find a good OB-GYN who will treat you for decades, help you find the right birth control, care for you during your pregnancies, and hold your hand during menopause, I say hang on to that person whether male or female. In the end, the patient makes the decision. In a recent study, some women stated they preferred male OB-GYNS by 8%, according to a review of 23 studies. Why: males are gentler and better listeners, they take each individual concern more seriously—perhaps to overcome some stereotype or perhaps because they are empathetic individuals who find the practice challenging and rewarding. But I’m sure there’s a study somewhere that would say the exact opposite. What’s awesome, is that now women have a choice. Do you have a preference and if so, why?

Photo: Huffington Post

For more on this topic: https://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2018/03/08/are-there-too-many-women-in-ob-gyn/#respond

16 thoughts on “Do You Have a Preference: Female or Male Ob-Gyn?

  1. I try to support women in these kind of careers. That said it really is about personality clicks. I fired my first oncologist because she was too serious and aloof and hired a male oncologist and have loved him. He is funny and smart and his personality meshes with mine.

    • Love that. I do think it comes down to THE PERSON and not the GENDER. Thanks for this. I find the topic very interesting. Beth

  2. Having had all my kids in the 70’s…all my OBGYN’s were men…I had 3 kids by the age of 21 and had terrible periods and bleeding constantly all month long. When I went to see my Gyn and after so may tests which showed nothing..I finally asked for a partial hysterectomy, he said to me…and I’ll never forget this…”What if you lost all your children?” I stopped going to him and went to a woman.

    • Yes, wow. Maybe he meant well, but that was extreme. not to mention that you were suffering with the bleeding. Thanks for reading.

  3. I much prefer a female gynecologist. Have had one for many years. There’s something obnoxious about a male telling you how your body is working. Maybe its me. I also don’t like that “legs spread” vulnerability with a man. Much prefer a female.

    • Thanks! I appreciate your answer and understand totally. I have had arguments with my GYN about exactly what you are saying here. He finally left his practice. He never liked it when his patients brought in info from the Internet.

  4. I’ll admit to a definite preference for female doctors. With the exception of an orthopedic surgeon, I’ve always chosen the woman. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t leave a bad one though -but I’d be looking for another woman.

    • Love your response. When you know what works for you there is no reason to change. Thanks so much for reading, Beth

  5. An embarrassing sign of the times… When I was having babies a million years ago (ok… 30+ years ago), I remember thinking a male OBGYN would be best because they’d be more *available* (eeks…). I thought that a female would be too tied up with her own children. As I said, an embarrassing admission… but an honest one. I’m happy to say, I’ve come a long way baby….

    • We all have. It was a different time. As I said in the piece, I much preferred the male doctor I had even when the female arrived. I think she tried to be brusk to model a man. Sad. She didn’t have the bedside manner you would think a woman would have. Beth

  6. I’ve had both also. Both good and bad. Personality counts for me. But now that I’m older I think it’s better to have a female who specializes in older women. They have more of an understanding of how we feel and I feel better showing off my wrinkly old butt to them rather than a man. I interviewed a female gynecologist who specializes in menopause and that her focus is different than doctors who deal mostly with pregnancy.

    • I love your honesty. I feel the same way. Aging is NEVER EASY and at this point in our lives talking to a female feels more like talking to a friend. Ironically, when we moved to CA my husband chose a female practitioner for his leukemia. He thinks she is awesome and she is. We both see her as our internist, which has eliminated my need for OBGYN. Have a good day. Beth

  7. I don’t go to an OB/GYN anymore, but rater a female nurse practitioner. I’ve had her for over 15 years, and I love her. I had given up on my previous OB/GYN, a man, for various reasons (but not for unease in using a male).

    • I think it’s awesome when you can find a person who meets your needs, who is available to you and with whom you feel comfortable. Thanks for reading.

  8. I can see why women tend to often prefer women as their gynecologist. Everyone has different preferences on what makes them comfortable during a doctor’s visit. Personally, I feel that’s why it’s important to do your research before choosing an OBGYN or any other healthcare provider.

    • Thanks for you reply, Becca. Research always works. And there was a time when you could interview your prospective doctor. Don’t know if that still happens. Beth

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