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06-26-2013, 04:47 AM   #1
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Double standard between male & female medical staff?

Something that struck me as possibly hypocritical, usually when I have a gynaecological or colorectal examination with a male doctor, the doctor has to get a female chaperone. Which kind of assumes that every one is heterosexual - that a male would always be attracted to a female patient, and a female wouldn't, so whereas the male doctor can't be trusted alone with a female patient, there's never any suspicion that a female nurse may also be attracted to a female patient.

Besides the gender problem involved with the fact that so many consultant doctors are male while almost every nurse is female, how would this situation work if either the doctor or nurse is homosexual? Of course it also assumes that no male can be trusted alone with an undressed female, but unfortunately I've had enough experience with doctors to know I wouldn't trust a doctor I didn't know to examine me with no one else present. Do male patients always have a chaperone for examinations too?

Last edited by nogutsnoglory; 06-26-2013 at 05:46 AM.
06-26-2013, 11:38 AM   #2
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I absolutely think there is a hypocrisy and double standard going on in this regard as well. There are so many stereotypes and misconceptions that society is operating on to justify the way in which we do things. Regardless of orientation not all men or all women will be attracted to everyone. People are always fearful that they will be found attractive by someone they are not interested in and that's just crazy. Everyone has different tastes and I would hope in a medical setting that the person conducts themselves professionally.

I definitely think we base everything on the assumption that you are heterosexual unless otherwise noted. The term for this is heterosexism, everyone is heterosexual and no regard or thought is given to the fact that some don't fall into the majority identity.

I have seen few female doctors because I think the field is still dominated by men and nursing by women. As a male, one female doctor gave me a full examination including touching my genitals and nobody else was present. It didn't bother me but I don't believe a female with a male doctor would ever experience that without a female in the room to ensure nothing goes wrong. I don't know what happens with gay doctors but id imagine its the same thing, a male doctor touching a woman will have someone come in the room even if he is gay. I don't think too many doctors are out because they probably worry about the impact it may have on their profession and ability to get patients.
06-26-2013, 12:13 PM   #3
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Is part of the problem not that a man is more likely to be able to physically intimidate or dominate a woman?

As such with a chaperone present they're unlikely to put force on a patient, or rather they have a witness should the patient accuse them of anything?

I never, ever thought it was a sexuality thing to be honest :-/
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06-26-2013, 12:26 PM   #4
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I do think that it is done to prevent lawsuits so that there isn't any question or liability. The problem is that it operates under the premise that all men are abusers and looking to take advantage of women and that men cannot control their sexual urges.
06-26-2013, 01:01 PM   #5
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Hi,

yes I have always found this a little odd too. As doctors I'd imagine that to them a patient is a patient and nothing else. I mean... i've just told them that i have perfuse diarrhoea and other ailments... i doubt he'd rape me after that!

Lately i have been to see a surgeon about my pectus excavatum (I have a very severe and rare form of the chest deformity) and for him to have a proper look I had to take my top off and have him palpate my breasts and ribcage. When he asked me if it would be ok for him to do that I said "sure" and began to strip off right away, he almost had a fit going "hang on love, i need to get a nurse to come in with us...", I laughed and told him I trusted him (he was a very kindly little 60 year old surgeon...hardly a pedo/ pervert), but he nurse came in and was present during the examination.... just seems a massive faff to me... or perhaps Im just too ready to strip off for old men :P I dunno....
06-26-2013, 01:37 PM   #6
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I do think that it is done to prevent lawsuits so that there isn't any question or liability. The problem is that it operates under the premise that all men are abusers and looking to take advantage of women and that men cannot control their sexual urges.
I think if women could intimidate or physically dominate men there would be the same requirements though. I tend to think it's more to do with physical difference between men and women than implying men can't control themselves. There's no getting around that men and women, regardless of sexuality, are different in both physical and mental attributes, accounting for the difference in job roles the different sexes excel in etc.

It's also to protect the doctor as much as the patient. Patients will lie about what has happened in the room. I would imagine historically there have been few accusations of men being raped by women than otherwise. I'm a dentist and I always have to have a chaperone (my dental nurse) in the room as witness even as a woman. Patients will lie about the strangest things.

I've only ever had a chaperone for examination as a private patient, incidentally. I found the doctor getting the chaperone more unsettling than him just going ahead and doing the exam. It was a little weird.
06-27-2013, 05:23 AM   #7
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I absolutely think there is a hypocrisy and double standard going on in this regard as well. There are so many stereotypes and misconceptions that society is operating on to justify the way in which we do things. Regardless of orientation not all men or all women will be attracted to everyone. People are always fearful that they will be found attractive by someone they are not interested in and that's just crazy. Everyone has different tastes and I would hope in a medical setting that the person conducts themselves professionally.
I don't think people fear that they will be found attractive so much as that a doctor may be inappropriate with them. I'd experienced this with a male doctor, and don't think I'd ever be comfortable with a male doctor I didn't know well. I really hate that I'm implying that I see all men as potential threats, but I don't know how else to deal with the situation other than to have a chaperone. I have a male colorectal surgeon who I've seen for several years, and I'm ok when he does a rectal examination even if there's no one else there. But with a doctor I don't know I have no way of making sure he can be trusted. I think it was towards the end of last year that I saw a male gynaecologist who I'd never seen before, and as he was talking to me and explaining that he was going to have to examine me, I started panicking and saying I didn't want the exam, but after he'd got a nurse to come in and they talked to me a bit more I went through with it.

It seems really unfair that the actions of a tiny minority of men/doctors make me suspicious of everyone, but I'm really not sure what else I can do about it. The fear isn't something I'm able to control. It's not logical of me, as females can also behave inappropriately, whether with men or women, although it does seem it's much more common for it to be a man. lsgs's point about physical strength doesn't really apply to me either because I'm tiny and have the strength of a kitten, so the vast majority of women could physically dominate me if they wanted to anyway.

My female GPs have never even mentioned bringing in a chaperone, although I actually have had a female gynaecologist get a nurse - also female - to chaperone on two occasions. One was quite recently, and I'm not really sure why she brought in a chaperone or if that's typical or not. The other was when I was still in a children's hospital. I was in-patient, and my parents weren't there at the time. I think I had about three female nurses present. I didn't really understand what was going on at the time, but looking back on it now I reckon at least one nurse was there simply to talk to me and distract me, and I think possibly they had so many chaperones because as a child you may well not be aware of what is and isn't appropriate touching for a gynaecological examination. However, I think this could apply to adults too. What you actually experience during gynaecological and digital rectal examinations is extremely weird and invasive when you think about it, and patients, even adults, wouldn't necessarily know whether what the doctor is doing is appropriate or not.

I do think the doctor's personality plays a role too. I really liked the female gynaecologist I saw, I don't think I would have minded if she hadn't got a chaperone. She made me feel very comfortable, which wasn't much to do with her gender so much as she had really taken the time to listen to me and seemed to understand. Whereas when I saw the male doctor who'd made me panic, I wasn't comfortable with him even before he talked about an examination. He just didn't seem to care about the symptoms I was talking about, and was very short with me. He became very irritated when I couldn't remember which tests I'd already had, and was just generally off-putting.

So perhaps I could get round the problem of not trusting men by making sure I only see doctors who I'm comfortable with, making it not so much an issue of gender but of personality.
06-27-2013, 05:33 AM   #8
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Hi,

yes I have always found this a little odd too. As doctors I'd imagine that to them a patient is a patient and nothing else. I mean... i've just told them that i have perfuse diarrhoea and other ailments... i doubt he'd rape me after that!

Lately i have been to see a surgeon about my pectus excavatum (I have a very severe and rare form of the chest deformity) and for him to have a proper look I had to take my top off and have him palpate my breasts and ribcage. When he asked me if it would be ok for him to do that I said "sure" and began to strip off right away, he almost had a fit going "hang on love, i need to get a nurse to come in with us...", I laughed and told him I trusted him (he was a very kindly little 60 year old surgeon...hardly a pedo/ pervert), but he nurse came in and was present during the examination.... just seems a massive faff to me... or perhaps Im just too ready to strip off for old men :P I dunno....
I'm making this thread sound like I pretty much spend my life in doctors appointments, which is actually true but your post reminded me of when I was having an echocardiogram - a test which involves you being naked above the waist while the doctor sticks various things to your chest and back, and generally has to feel around your breasts to get things in the right place, and moves a probe around your chest. I had mine done by a female, and again there was no mention of getting a chaperone. I did feel comfortable having that test done. This thread is making me realise I'm stereotyping people by their gender a lot more than I probably should. Or is it just that there are more women than men who are good at making patients feel at ease?
06-27-2013, 05:57 AM   #9
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Unfortunately gender and stereotypes come into play here.

A male doctor will ensure a female is present when doing any examination that involves the breasts or genitals/anus. This plays into the generalisation that sexual assault is predominately a male characteristic. It doesn't have so much do with attraction as opportunity.
From the doctors perspective a witness protects them from vexatious complaints.

As to the other way around, again it plays into stereotypes. Females are generally considered as non aggressors when it comes to sexual assault and society still has difficulty accepting that women are capable of sexually dominating a man.

Just as a side note, it is interesting that as nurse for over 30 years pretty I have seen countless occasions where a female patient will refuse a male nurse but I have yet to see a male patient refuse a female nurse. That is not to say it doesn't happen of course, I just haven't seen it.

Dusty. xxx
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06-27-2013, 07:20 AM   #10
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I don't think I've ever had a doctor bring in a chaperone for any exams, and I've had quite a lot between IBD and having gone through a high risk pregnancy. Many of my doctors have been female, but I've also had male doctors. Both my OB and perinatologist were male as have most of my GIs been. When choosing a primary care dr at a practice with multiple drs, they did ask if I preferred a female dr over a male dr.
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07-02-2013, 11:58 PM   #11
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I have had more confirmations the reverse doesn't happen. I have had two different female doctors examine my anus in the hospital without anyone else in the room. It doesn't bother me in the least. Quite frankly I just want proper care and could care less who sees what.

I think it's true that more males are aggressors but that being said females can molest and rape as well. I know an adult male who was raped by a woman. I think there is a lot that is not reported because of the shame and stigma of a man being taken advantage of by a woman and the idea of him losing his sense of masculinity.

I also think just like women some men may be uncomfortable by someone of the same or opposite sex seeing their private parts for a host of reasons. I suppose though its probably extremely unlikely the same protocols are followed anywhere.

As a gay man I have no issue showing private parts to a woman but am a little less comfortable with a male doctor/nurse examining them. I suppose its because of the tension that exists in the room. Male-male relations even non-sexual yet intimate are so taboo. A male doctor examining another males privates is sort of intimate and awkward. Maybe I wouldn't find that with a gay male doctor but with straight males I feel weird and they probably are equally as eager to finish their job.

Last edited by nogutsnoglory; 07-03-2013 at 12:19 AM.
07-03-2013, 05:42 AM   #12
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As a gay man I have no issue showing private parts to a woman but am a little less comfortable with a male doctor/nurse examining them. I suppose its because of the tension that exists in the room. Male-male relations even non-sexual yet intimate are so taboo. A male doctor examining another males privates is sort of intimate and awkward. Maybe I wouldn't find that with a gay male doctor but with straight males I feel weird and they probably are equally as eager to finish their job.
I don't know - I think a lot of doctors just don't think of bodies the same way most of the rest of us do - or at least not when they're in their doctor "role". My (male) colorectal surgeon - the one I mentioned in my post above that I've been seeing for years and am comfortable with - is so relaxed and casual about doing rectal exams I can't imagine him ever feeling awkward with a patient, whatever their gender. He just gets on with it the same way he examines the surgery scars on my stomach or any other less intimate procedure. He tells me how he discusses my nerve damage and bowel prolapses at conferences he goes to - I have unusual rectal problems which he seems to find fascinating and he doesn't seem to associate it with sexuality, intimacy or anything like that, and my gender doesn't come into it at all. Being female is only relevant in how it determines my physical characteristics.

I think if someone's chosen to specialise in rectal problems (or gynaecology) it's unlikely that they see intimate examinations as something they feel uncomfortable about.
07-15-2013, 12:48 PM   #13
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I am a nurse and I have had female doctors ask me to be present in the room while doing genital examinations on female patients. I have had male doctors ask me to be present while examining female patients as well. In my area of work there are not many male patients (maternity and pediatrics- which does include teenagers and often even young adults and random other patients when the hospital does not have a free bed on the appropriate unit), so personally it has not come up that any of my male patients have had to have any genital exams, but I'm sure they would want a nurse present as well. It probably depends on the doctor, but the group I work with seems to want a nurse present regardless of doctor/patient genders.
07-15-2013, 01:02 PM   #14
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It might be different in the US (I'm in the EU), I have never heard of a chaperone or changing the sex of the doctor to suit the patient.

At the end of the day I want the best doctor, if he's male or if she's female, I really do not care one bit, it could be an alien for all I care. These GI do colon and small intestinal examinations by the thousands, I think 99.99% is busy with the issue at hand and not thinking about having a relationship with their patient.
07-15-2013, 01:09 PM   #15
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I have had more confirmations the reverse doesn't happen. I have had two different female doctors examine my anus in the hospital without anyone else in the room. It doesn't bother me in the least. Quite frankly I just want proper care and could care less who sees what.

I think it's true that more males are aggressors but that being said females can molest and rape as well. I know an adult male who was raped by a woman. I think there is a lot that is not reported because of the shame and stigma of a man being taken advantage of by a woman and the idea of him losing his sense of masculinity.

I also think just like women some men may be uncomfortable by someone of the same or opposite sex seeing their private parts for a host of reasons. I suppose though its probably extremely unlikely the same protocols are followed anywhere.

As a gay man I have no issue showing private parts to a woman but am a little less comfortable with a male doctor/nurse examining them. I suppose its because of the tension that exists in the room. Male-male relations even non-sexual yet intimate are so taboo. A male doctor examining another males privates is sort of intimate and awkward. Maybe I wouldn't find that with a gay male doctor but with straight males I feel weird and they probably are equally as eager to finish their job.

That is so unprofessional of these male doctors-they need to get it together if they feel that awkward examining another man, period. If they are uncomfortable examining a gay man then they need a new line of work, IMHO. That is so offensive that society would somehow view me as a woman (gay or straight) as more "acceptable" to examine in an intimate way than a man of either orientation. I can only imagine how the quality of health care many men receive suffers as a result.

Unfortunately I have had two instances where male doctors behaved inappropriate with me and I was glad to have the nurse there, though it didn't really matter to me whether said nurse was male or female. I think anyone, man or woman, is vulnerable when being examined in certain ways and an extra layer of protection that a nurse provides is important.

That being said, I have had far more doctors and nurses go out of their way to ensure my comfort and have even invited my husband into the room as well.

I feel for you nogutsnoglory-I cannot even imagine how hard it must be for you to be so sick and then have to deal with that.
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07-15-2013, 03:30 PM   #16
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It is definitely all about covering their a** for sure. I mean I know when I have been examined by a male they always have a nurse come in. Well except for when my gastro checked me once, my husband was in there with me so he did not even bother with a nurse. I also remember when I was seeing this urogyne doctor who was a male. Well I also had my hubby in the room with me and the Gyne was actually showing my husband my cervix! Lol. But yeah, typically if a woman goes to any male doctor and has to be examined( down there especially), then they always have a nurse come in the room. It is to protect the doctor actually from a possible law suit. I am guessing at some point in time maybe it happened where a woman was sexually assaulted and the doctor got sued. Well now days some people are sue happy and there is the occasional bad person who would lie about something like that and so that is why doctors have a nurse come in.
07-30-2013, 01:29 PM   #17
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So this is the first time this happened to me and I didn't even think anything about it till now but I was examined and that included my private parts.

Till now as a male, male doctors have always examined me alone but this time a female also came in the room. She didn't help him or anything, its like she was just there as a witness that protocol was being followed.

I am so immune to being poked and prodded and being examined by doctors at this point, I could care less if they are male or female, one or ten people in the room. Yes, I have had a whole crew of people looking at things on me in the past. Kinda awkward but I don't care so long as they can fix me!
08-14-2013, 09:05 AM   #18
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I don't think I've ever had a female doctor, but in every examination procedure I can recall, there were at least two people in the room. It actually never occurred to me that the second person may be there because the main examiner is a male and I am a female. I always thought is was protocol for all patients... for both patient and doctor's safety. A second person helps prevent against possible false-charges of misconduct.

I, personally, always try to bring someone for an examination as well. Typically my partner, but before her I'd bring my best friend and state explicitly that I want them to remain during the exam. Whoever the person was would usually stand in a way that still allowed for me to feel like I have privacy, but their presence would still comfort me. (This tactic is never allowed when I'm anesthetized though...)

Anyway, I think you raise a good point regarding gender double-standards. They really are everywhere!

EDIT: After posting this initially I almost immediately recalled an incident that took place when I was in college and first experiencing Crohn's symptoms. I went to the ER alone (one of the only times) around 3 am due to extreme pain and while there I received a rectal exam from a male doctor without a female present. Just me and the doctor in a dark room. It was extremely painful and forceful and left me feeling extremely violated. I remember going home crying, taking a long shower, and crying more. I then avoided doctor's/hospitals as long as possible until it became absolutely necessary (severe weight loss with large amounts of blood loss). Anyway, sorry if that's a bit much to share, but I can't believe I'd repressed the memory...
08-21-2013, 10:12 AM   #19
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Heyayej, the fact that you never had a female doctor is another double standard entirely that we can talk about. As a male I'm so sick of gender inequality that exists in the workforce and in society and the stereotypes placed on women and the unequal pay for equal work. Can you tell im political yet?

It's interesting you can bring your partner or a friend because in the times I had a family member or friend with me (not because I was going to be naked, they were just with me) the doctor always asks them to step out. If I had them with me for the reason you have them, that would be horrible since the doctor just kicked out my sense of security and support.

I'm sorry for your bad rectal exam experience. Do you feel he was unnecessarily forceful or you didn't need the exam? They shouldn't hurt unless you have perianal disease or you are very nervous and squeezing your muscles down there.
09-09-2013, 10:34 AM   #20
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He was extremely unnecessarily forceful. I went home with with tears that bled off and on for a day or so afterwards. Had I not been so generally scared and shy about everything, I probably would have tried to actually do something regarding it at the time. It took me far too long to realize that what happened wasn't what was supposed to happen.
06-26-2015, 08:36 AM   #21
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This is a great feature film on compulsory medical examination of men before the military service: ABOUT A YOUNG MAN by Gabriel Daniel Dorobantu
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