Desi women and male doctors

So, what is the deal with desi women and male gynecologists. A reader recently asked me  what should be done if a husband did not like his wife visiting a male gynecologist.  The post can be found here.  I gave her the best answer I could provide stating that he may not like his wife visiting one, but he should in no way prevent her from getting necessary medial services.

So, why exactly do we shun the  medical personal in this category. Is it modesty or shame, fear or religion or is it altogether something else.

There are some cultures/ religions which practice segregation of sexes and contact between males and females who are not family is discouraged even prohibited. But, I also know,   in that those cultures or religions there is an exception for medical services and/or situations where loss of life or limb could result  due to refusing the help of a man.

Are we as women so ashamed of our bodies and refuse to let a male see us at our most vulnerable.  If  the reason is this, then why don’t we discriminate when we need a doctor to treat breast or cervical cancer or don’t mind being treated by a male doctor for fractures  in the hip or thigh or even a cardiologist. I don’t think women actively seek doctors of the same sex to treat these conditions, just the best  in their respective areas of practice.

Is it  our fear of exploitation  then, that prevents us. Sure, like everyone else I’ve read stories of male doctors molesting their patients, and I cannot even begin to imagine the plight of women who have experienced something like that, especially at the hands of someone they trusted with their life and limb.

But perverts and creeps are everywhere, is shunning the entire male gynecologist community the answer to keeping women safe. Wouldn’t it be better if doctor patient laws are strengthened and people are actually educated about the proper code of conduct for doctors and patients. It would  also be of tremendous  help if victims were encouraged to come forward and harsher punishments meted out to those found guilty.

So, if the reason isn’t any of the above, then what is it that makes us hesitate, stop or even coil at the thought of visiting a male gynecologist.

Leave a comment


  1. Niranchana

     /  February 3, 2012

    Even when the woman is ok with a male gyno, if her husband is not, she needs to respect it.
    I am sure an average woman like me will not want my husband’s privates being checked by a female doc!
    One needs to respect her partner’s feelings and vice versa.
    But then, you are a person who says a husband should be fine to raise a child his wife bore out of adultery. So I cannot expect anything different from you and your ilk.

    • Niranchana,

      “Even when the woman is ok with a male gyno, if her husband is not, she needs to respect it.
      I agree husband and wife need to respect each other’s likes and dislikes and take into account each other’s fears and insecurities. Let me ask you this, what if the wife needed some surgery immediately and a male doctor was the only one available to do it. Should the husband deny his wife medical treatment?

      “I am sure an average woman like me will not want my husband’s privates being checked by a female doc!”
      I’m not sure if an average Indian woman even has a say in her husband’s treatment. That being said I ask you the same question. What if it was an emergency? Would you deny or compromise the quality of care your spouse receives just because the doctor is a woman.

      Also lessons in ethics is part of the medical school curriculum and most doctors do not, cannot and should not look at a patient sexually. I know that there are a few undesirables who take advantage of their position, but this is not to say that its the case with the majority.

      “But then, you are a person who says a husband should be fine to raise a child his wife bore out of adultery. So I cannot expect anything different from you and your ilk.”
      I don’t know if you realize, but scores of girls have been married to men who were already fathers. These women were/are expected to love and take on the role of the mother to the kids almost immediately. Why is it wrong to have the same expectation from a man. Remember its the wife who cheated him, he is free to be with her or not after the fact. But its not fair if he wants the wife back but not the child.

      About my ilk, although I haven’t made as much of an impact as I would like to yet, its the ilk that you mention has even made it possible for you and me to sit in front of a computer to engage in discussion. What if someone did not fight for the woman’s right to education. Our parents did not wake up one fine day and decide that they wanted to get us educated, it was because of countless nameless and faceless people who fought for that right for us. Also, I can assure you that my ilk is not trying to break up families or take away the rights of husbands. Just think of it as going from dictatorship to democracy.

      • Let Your ilk grow. And also send blessings to Nirchana and her ilk to. They are also victim of a victim and will over the time understand the true important of what your ilk is trying to do..

      • Amen to that brother!

  2. I come from a small town (Siliguri, West Bengal) and it only became a city recently. And all along even my birth 40 years before and even now, most gynaecologist in this town are male. And lot of the very conservative marwari community in Siliguri do go to this doctors. Not only when I was born, but even now the Gynaec visit is a visit to the doctor. Male of female doesnt’ matter, and it is very very much respectable.

    Also, the regular world doesn’t realize this (but I saw this experience when I was treated for a hernia surgery in Apollo hospitals, Hyderabad) but the world of hospital is very different. Once you are in there, you are just a functioning human with a disease that needs to be treated. Your attendants, nurses are all males/females. Doctors, anaestheist etc, all males/females. I mean you are wearing a gown and practically all naked for the hospital and you really don’t worry about who is seeing what, etc. Infact, they are so comfortable with the human body and having seen the body in its native form millions of times, it doesn’t even occur to them that they are seeing some private area or something.. My wife always visited a female gynaec, but at delivery we had a male neo-natalogist. We still visit him for my 8 year old daugther. There is a social contract and it is respected. Period.

    We really have to learn a lot in this regard..

    DG, good job in bringing this up…

    • Anil, I too had a lady OB-GYN but she was off duty both times when my kids were born. The older one had a lady doctor from her group deliver him, but my daughter was delivered by a male OB. This doctor treated us so well, my husband and I could see that he was truly happy for us, enjoyed his job and treated his patients with so much sensitivity and consideration that he actually went a step beyond being just professional. If I can describe him in one sentence I would say that he was born to deliver babies. I cannot imagine him doing any other job and have since recommended him to at-least a dozen women/couples so far.

  3. Anil Singhal

     /  February 29, 2012

    I always love to hear nice things about people! Btw, this is “Anil” :)) – you mention “Arun”

    • I apologize for getting your name wrong Anil.

      • Anil Singhal

         /  February 29, 2012

        🙂 . You must be in USA to be responding at this wee hour 🙂 .. It is nice to see people like you still operating for the country from such distances..

      • Yeah, you’re right, and thank you so much for your kind words. Although, I must admit that I do not yet deserve them yet, I merely compare and contrast my experience here with what I experienced back in India.

  4. Hi DG, You may want to discuss this as a post, but i thought of sharing a piece of random thought in my head.

    I am going through some tough days in the office (early days).

    When I see happy homemakers here in my place, I cannot help but envy them.

    It looks like a secure, cozy life, if you get a good husband. No hassles, no pressure, no dead lines, no team meets, no office politics, no back stabs……

    Husband takes care of all the earnings, you have to take care of the home and kids. You have friends in the neighbourhood, you get to do your chores together, well, most of them. You have good company…. You take care of the kids… evenings you go to temple and pray… come back, have a good time with family, sleep.

    Is that not a wonderful life?

    I am thinking:

    அடுத்த பிறவில நல்ல ஜாதகத்துல பொண்ணா பொறந்து, நல்ல புருசனா கட்டி ரெண்டு புள்ளைய பெத்து அதுகள மேச்சுகிட்டு நிம்மதியா காலத்த ஓட்டிபுடனும்!

    What do the ladies on this forum think about this? What’s your side of the story? 🙂

    • If you think I am naive, I probably am. :)…. that’s why am trying to talk to you people… 🙂

    • Hi BD,

      I am going through some tough days at home lately

      When I see men just skipping off to work and coming home, I can’t help but envy them.
      It looks like an easy life, you get a good wife, no hassles, no pressure, no assignments, no homework,no clean up,no laundry,no cooking, no feeding, clothing, bathing, soothing the kids, no in-law, family politics etc, no back stabs from husbands, in-laws, parents and society.

      All the husband has to do is earn, he doesn’t have to manage a home or kids. Good friends in the office and outside, you discuss the latest news, sports and politics with them. You have good company, you don’t take care of the kids, Evenings you come home and watch TV, maybe play with your kids and go to sleep.

      Isn’t this a wonderful life?

      I am praying for all women to be born as “Husbands” in their next birth.

      • BD

         /  March 1, 2012

        Ikkaraikku akkarai pachai!

        The grass on the other side of the fence is green eh? he he 🙂

    • What I told you is the answer you will get from most women, but if you really wanna know, how women feel about it, I can provide you the link to another blog where you can get many more points of view.

  5. I remember a small anecdote at IIT, kanpur’s welcome ceremony. Someone asked our Head of Department, Physics – what would he like to be in next life..and he says- “Wife of a rich husband” 🙂 !

    I believe there may be some truth in it, at times I end up envying some girls who marry rich guys and moving in BMWs..and vacation abroad, etc. But what you trade in you return your “freedom” and the power/option to be yourself, I don’t think it is worth it.

    I seriously think that the job of a man is much easier – at least in the way the present society runs! Still worse, if the man is staying with his parents, because then he gets absolutely pampered while the wife does every thing. Like, DG says, house hold chores may seem like an easy affair, but it isn’t. In my case, we both work and I have the opportunity to exactly work like a wife at home and I know very well that it is no easy job!.. no!! You are much better going to a work! (read away from home, when you can technically be free from all worries that concerns home, while your wife is always in the epicenter of all the action at home..always..except when you probably take her out on a weekend or something..).

  6. BD

     /  March 2, 2012

    //I am thinking:

    அடுத்த பிறவில நல்ல ஜாதகத்துல பொண்ணா பொறந்து, நல்ல புருசனா கட்டி ரெண்டு புள்ளைய பெத்து அதுகள மேச்சுகிட்டு நிம்மதியா காலத்த ஓட்டிபுடனும்!//

    For the benefit of those who do not know Tamizh, It means: In my next birth, I wish I get to be a girl born in a good time and luck, get married to a good, caring and loving husband, have a couple of kids and pass my time taking care of them.

  7. Read this BD,
    — and it will fairly tell you why you wouldn’t want that Tamizh quote to come true!

    • BD

       /  March 2, 2012

      I forgot to mention, as long as there is no abuse, I’d not be aggressive or career oriented as a woman, if my wish was granted. The whole point is I was tired of all these office politics I see around me. So I was telling, I want to be the woman who married a great husband and lived her life in peace.
      I’d be content with my neighbours of fantasy, who’d wash clothes with me after bathing in the river bank, clean rice chatting along, borrow chilli powder, baby sit each other’s kids, gossip on the thinnai (a raised platform in front of the Tamizhan house, on either side of the main entrance), comb each others’ hair in the afternoon, visit the local village temple together, share the joys and sorrows like a family…….. DG may know what I am telling as she I guess belongs to the same state as I do.
      Even my stories are centred around a village life and women there…… As a writer I let my imagination run amok… he he :)..

      God forbid, I do not want a bad irresponsible drunkard as a husband!

  8. The Oppressed

     /  March 15, 2012

    In my case I would say fear. I recently went to the hospital emergency room and a young male doctor who was new and supposedly in training got to see me. I asked the female nurse if there were any female doctors available and she said “not today”. Then when i explained how uncomfortable I was, she tried to use his marital status (“he’s married”) as an excuse. However, it didn’t help becuase it didn’t matter about a man’s marital status, age, religion, race, or sexual orientation. The bottom line was that he was male, and i didn’t want to see him. The female nurse said that she would talk to him. After she came back, she didn’t say much. I had to ask if she ever talked to him, and she said ‘yes”. I then asked if he understood how I felt, and she again said “yes”. Then the male doctor came in and examined me anyway, and he never explained what he was doing to me during the whole exam. The female nurse did all the talking. After the exam, he started talking to the nurse describing what i looked like “down there”. I even noticed that he never talked to me about my result or condition for why I was in the hospital. He only talked to the female nurse about what he thought was going on with me. Then when i was about to go home, I could hear him saying things to my mom like “Well somebody’s gotta put their hands on her, or she’ll have to follow up with a doctor in 5 to 7 days.” Saying that someone’s gotta put their hands on me was highly unnecessary. He basically took it personal about me being uncomfortable as a female paitent with a male doctor. He took no consideration that I could be someone with a terrible past and present (which I am). He should have realized that not all patients will be comfortable with male patients. It comes with the job, and he should have learned to expect, respect, and accept that. This has shown me that male doctors with opinions like his (especially the young ones) are not doing anything to help the community…….they’re doing this to help themselves. So as a result I will be finding (and looking as hard as I can) me a female.


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