Do male gynaecologists ease or cringe you?

Friday, March 27th, 2020 00:00 |
Male gynaecologist. Photo/Courtesy

Does the thought of your annual gynecological examination make you uncomfortable, especially if it is by a male gyno? While some women have no qualms about it, others often experience fear and anxiety just thinking about showing their privates to a total male stranger, we find out why

Betty Muindi and Sandra Wekesa

In a post somewhere on Facebook, a woman posted, ‘Who knows of any professional and friendly gynecologist I can visit, and why are most gynos male anyway?’

Subsequent comments and photos set some hearts aflutter, and made a few shudder.

While some commenters swooned, others seemed disturbed by it all. The fact that a male doctor would specialise in women’s health care was essentially turned into a fired up debate gone wild.  

Then another question came in within the post, ‘would you consult a male gynecologist?’

While some women answered with a resounding “yes” others said they would never let their private parts be touched by a man unless they were giving birth.

One Pamela Ong’iro said she has never been treated by one and never would, “The mere thought makes me uncomfortable,” she added. 

Her sentiment was echoed by Tiffany Njeri, who is in her 30s. “My obstetrician-gynecologist is a woman, which is just how I like it. I just feel male gynos  are a bit creepy,” she chuckled. 

Malia Kaveli, had mixed feelings too,  “I worked as a receptionist for three male gynecologists and there was no creepy factor with them.” 

Even so, she would not want a male gynecologist treating her. “The first time I ever made an appointment with a male gyno, I felt like I was getting ready for a date. It was a lot of pressure, shaving, scrubbing and all,” she said laughing.

And then there are women who say they feel more comfortable being seen by male gynecologists.

Gemini Wangari, 26, and a mother of one says her experience  with a female gynecologists was overwhelmingly negative. She finds them particularly judgmental and cold. 

“I once had a female gyno who used to handle me as if I was wasting her time.

I was pregnant and whenever I went to see her over an issue, she would just conclude that I am just being paranoid because it was a first time pregnancy,” she says.

Her sentiments are backed by Lorna Ndanu who says her female gyno was great until one day she told her that she had made bad sexual choices. “I was confused and upset by her statement.

I am not sure if it was because my sex life as a single person didn’t fit with her Christian principles.

I felt she was not professional and I never went back to see her again,” she quips.

The men on the platform who caught up with this discussion mostly said they would prefer their women being seen by fellow women.

“I would feel really uncomfortable letting my wife to be seen by a man like me.

But that is not the worst of the indignities, she is forced to endure minutes of a male gynecologist who might be ogling her body to comment on it later to colleagues,” said one Peter Cleophas.                       

Another man, Dan Mwaniki said he would only allow his woman to be seen by a male gyno that he trusts and probably older.

“It is a cruel world, he might touch her inappropriately or he might subject her to an arrogant attitude that demands unquestioning submission,” he puts.

Dr Francis Wasike, an obstestrics-gynecologist in Nairobi says the choice on whether a woman settles on a male or female gynecologist all depends on the age, preference or exposure of a woman. 

There are those who may feel comfortable seeing a male doctor during their childbearing years and feel uncomfortable talking to a man about their struggles with menopause.

Or, a 20-year-old girl may be too aware of her body and get shy about being seen by a male doctor, but an older experienced woman may not.

He debunks the notion that men who practise gynecology are suspect. “I don’t feel it’s creepy, oby-gyn is a very attractive field because it’s a great combination of internal medicine, a little psychiatry, and also surgery.

I can totally understand why a man might be drawn to the field. But the problem is you have to look at patients, and a lot of patients want women, and more and more will continue to want women,” he says.

Unfortunate incidences

He, however, says he understands why women may feel uncomfortable, and admits that he has heard stories of patients that they were made to feel uncomfortable.

“I’m sure it is ever a doctor’s intention to make a client feel odd, and it is unfortunate that there are stories out there of men doing strange things with patients.

It’s unfortunate because it casts a real shadow on the profession,” he admits.

Asked if female gynos have a harsher attitude towards their patients than their male counterparts, Dr Wasike disagrees saying because of the rules that govern sexism, some men can be perceived as kinder and gentler.

A woman who is direct in her manner can be perceived as cool and detached and lacking empathy.

“It is worth noting that having ample choice in choosing a women’s health provider is still a luxury,” he explains. 

Anthony Khaemba, a nurse says ultimately, many female patients want what all patients want, the best health provider possible.

“Many really don’t care if it’s male or female. When asked if they have a preferred doctor in mind, they say they just want an experienced and qualified one, regardless of gender,” he offers.

Khaemba who has been delivering and examining pregnant women for the last 10 years says, women react differently.

There are those who prefer male gynos because apparently men are gentle and some prefer women gynos because they feel shy being examined by a man.

In cases where a patient shys off or becomes comfortable, he calls in a female nurse to attend to her.

Khaemba says religious barriers are another major reason many women will turn down a male doctor, “From experience, Muslim women are always uncomfortable with a man assessing their labour contractions. Muslim women are more conservative than their Christian counterparts,” he explains. 

He says he totally understands men who politely request that their wives be attended to by a female gynaecologist.

More on Lifestyle