Are male patients comfortable with women doctors?

  | August 25, 2017

Are men less enthusiastic than women about seeing physicians of the opposite gender? Maybe, according to an analysis of more than 2 million primary care visits.

The study, which tracked patient visits on the athenahealth network between January and June 2014, looked at how many patients during that time frame returned to a new practice within 18 months of their first visits.

male patients uncomfortable with female physicians

Roughly half of the patients returned within that time if they shared their physicians' gender. Women returned to male doctors at nearly the same rate. But only 40 percent of male patients returned to their female doctors.

The pattern was particularly true for patients with commercial insurance. While 52 percent of commercially insured male patients returned to their male physicians, only 40 percent returned to female physicians. For commercially insured women, return rates were 51 percent for female physicians and 48 percent for male physicians.

Medicaid was the only insurance type that showed no difference in return rates for men based on the gender of the physician.

The problem doesn't appear to be related to the quality of care that male patients are receiving: A 2017 MedStatix/athenaHealth survey of 40,000 patients showed that men who saw female physicians gave those providers slightly higher ratings than those who saw male physicians.

So, what is the problem? Women have long been accustomed to male doctors – even now, only about a third of practicing physicians are female. Male patients, meanwhile, have expressed reservations about visiting women doctors for some time.

In particular, male patients seem uncomfortable with female physicians' use of chaperones during office visits. Long a common practice when female patients see male physicians, chaperones are meant to make patients feel more at ease during intimate examinations and prevent inappropriate behavior (and false charges of inappropriate behavior) from either party.

However, chaperons can make patients more uncomfortable – male patients in particular are overwhelmingly opposed to any third party in the room, particularly a female chaperone – and most chaperones are female. (For more on the topic, see Chaperones in the exam room -- who gets to decide?

This issue isn't likely to resolve itself soon. Almost half of new medical school graduates are women, and they will represent a growing proportion of the cohort of physicians who are accepting new patients.

One glimmer of optimism: In a recent exchange on quora.com, male patients expressed their preference for female physicians on a number of bases, including superior listening skills and — for certain sensitive procedures — a lighter physical touch.

E.M. Gardner is a writer based in Chicago. Additional reporting by Lia Novotny.

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Men here in the United States have by some sick misguided health care industry tradition been medically under served by the system that’s supposed to be taking care of them for years now. Just look at the disparity that exists between Women’s Health Care Centers that are staff with an all-female staff to care for women’s needs only and Men’s Health Care Centers that are staff with an all-male staff to care for men’s needs only. The balance is tilted heavily in favor of women’s health care as you’ll find very few true men’s health care clinics in this country. This inequality in care can be traced back partially to society’s views of men and women. Through the years, our society and more importantly the US healthcare industry has viewed men as being tough, confident, strong, accomplished individuals who are non-conforming, aggressive, and leaders. One who never dares to show any sign of weakness. At the same time through the years women have been viewed as being warm, emotional, kind, polite, sensitive, gentle, soft, and a follower. So doctor’s offices, imaging centers, clinics, and hospitals all took this view (as antiquated as it is today), and used it to develop the manner in which they treat their patients. This method started back in the early 20th century and is still unfortunately in use today. What they decided was that women being as they were warm, emotional, kind, and polite have modesty issues that needed to be protected. Since they are also so sensitive creatures, their dignity needed to be respected. At the same time they came up with this reasoning for women, they somehow decided that since men were these tough, strong, non-conforming, and aggressive individuals, they couldn’t possibly have modesty issues, or need their dignity respected. So with that mindset in place, they developed what can only be called a diabolical plan by which to run their business. For years, the US healthcare system has been playing a two-faced game on the public they are supposed to be serving. It’s time to put an end to the game and call them on the carpet for doing it. Out of one side of their mouth they tell the public they serve that they are an “equal opportunity employer”. While at the same time, out of the other side of their mouth they hire female staff only for doctor’s offices, imaging centers, clinics, and hospitals. Their logic to this madness is they hire only women so as to protect a woman’s privacy and dignity in areas such as mammography and labor and delivery. These same female nurses and technicians can also take care of the medical needs of both sexes at the same time. That, is what we and male techs and nurses trying to get hired would call discrimination. Ah, but the medical community has yet another card up their slimy sleeve to play if their hiring practice is challenged in court. They tell the courts they claim what is called a bona fide occupational qualification defense (BFOQ). What they are telling the courts is it is reasonably necessary for them to hire female workers only to support the normal operation of the business. Their defense is bogus because it cannot stand up to two very important tests. 1. Take away a woman’s right to her privacy since men don’t have it to begin with and level the playing field to start. Now, the medical community could hire an equally qualified male nurse or technician who could step in and do just as good a job as the female. They fail test 1. 2. Test two and more importantly, the “Patient’s Bill of Rights” that’s hanging in the lobby of almost every healthcare institution in this country. There are two lines of interest on the one hanging in the lobby of a hospital nearby. Every person has the right to Personal privacy and the confidentiality of your medical record. Every person has the right to be treated with dignity. Two words “Every person” That doesn’t mean they protect the privacy and respect the dignity of just females. “Every person” means BOTH men and women have their privacy protected and their dignity respected. With that in mind, I ask you how is that our healthcare industry is being allowed to get away with this when a man seeking some privacy for an intimate male related exam, test, or procedure cannot ask for and get same gender caregivers? Since they cannot pass the test, the healthcare industry should NOT be allowed to use this defense in court. What they are doing is trading men’s lives for dollars. It’s time men started playing their “NO TRADE” card. The problem has gone on far too long and it’s time to do whatever it takes to put a stop to it and move the equality scales back to the middle where they belong. There are men today who have temperaments that are soft & gentle. Guys that like to cook and are often bombarded by their peers for not being charismatic and extroverted. It’s time for the healthcare industry to throw out their old stale views on how people are supposed to act and join the 21st century. Our country is in the process of crafting a new healthcare bill for the country. Gentlemen, it’s time to put your fears of speaking up because you are afraid of retribution from some loud mouth nurse aside and speak in a loud clear voice to the people in Washington that you want equality in the next healthcare bill. Next time you have something related to intimate care, don’t be afraid of pushing back at any facility and ask for male caregivers if that’s what you want. Don’t let them bring in a chaperone without you prior approval. If they do, stop everything at that point, tell everyone to leave so you can get dressed, then leave and report the facility. If they can satisfy you “tell them” you’ll take your business to a facility that will take care of you the way you CHOOSE. Guys, talk to your insurance company. You pay them top dollar in premiums. Make them work for it. Senior citizens, check with AARP. Tell them if women have the right to choose, so should men. See if they will join the fight. Don’t just keep saying to yourself and everyone else that “it is what it is”. It’s NOT. If men stop being wooses and start speaking up. They will have to listen! If you don’t want to do it for yourself, think about your brother, or your son and DO IT FOR THEM! Thanks for listening. Best regards, John
Name: 
John
Email: 
raffie326@gmail.com
Here's my take. Recently I have had several exams by a female doctor accompanied by a female chaperone. I am embarrassingly small (you know where.) If I were erect, I would not mind but this situation makes it worse. Are there any suggestions to make me feel better about this?
Name: 
Steve
Email: 
stephenholinka@yahoo.com
It is too late to undo what you have experienced, but you can switch to a male doctor going forward. It is the path of least resistance rather than trying to get the female doctor to treat you with respect. The other thing you can do is send a message to the female doctor telling her that the presence of a female chaperone embarrassed you, and that you are switching to a male doctor. Be polite and professional in how you say it, but do say it. Maybe she'll re-think her chaperone policy going forward.
Name: 
RLU
Email: 
bunderhill53@gmail.com
Yes Steve, easy answer. Stop seeing this female doctor, if she chooses to bring in another female. If you keep going, she will keep doing it. They probably don't have a "Male" Chaperone working in the office, and probably have no intentions of ever hiring one. The only way they will; is if men, when encountered with this set up, look the female doctor in the eyes, and say, " The exam is over" because this 2-female set up in my exam makes me feel very uncomfortable. Then ask her, if she goes to a Male Doctor, for HER intimate female exams, and if her Male doctor brings in another male to be her Chaperone. Ask her if SHE would feel comfortable with it. I bet any amount of money she see's a female doctor herself, and wouldn't accept a male chaperone during HER pap smears, or breast exams. They will continue to keep doing it if you don't complain. And I really am convinced that they don't actually care about your embarrassment or modesty, if they do it to you in the first place. The situation is really all in your control... in what to allow to happen in that exam room.
Name: 
Jim
Email: 
jimpatdoyle@gmail.com
Jim, Like you said, turn it against her and ask if she would like a male doctor and a male chaperone in the room. You know she wouldn't like that but doesn't think that men don't like it either. I can say that here in Wyoming where I live, I've never heard of a chaperone having to accompany a doctor, even a female doctor. I've gone to a female P.A in the past because a male doctor wasn't available at the time to have an annual physical (my physicals are just the blood work) but she didn't have a chaperone. She didn't ask if I wanted any of the intimate exams. I wouldn't have let her do them anyway. Being a P.A maybe they're not to do those exams on men out here, I never did ask.
Name: 
Jesse Stone
Email: 
jesse.stone307@yahoo.com
Steve: If you are going to the doctor for something male related, before anything gets started tell the doctor no chaperones. If they say one is required, you reply the chaperone must be male. If they have no males on staff, you then have to make the decision to go forward or stop, leave and find a new doctor who will work with you. Regards, John
Name: 
John
Email: 
Raffie326@gmail.com
Steve: Tell the doctor you prefer no chaperone be present for intimate exam. If not possible ask that the chaperone be male. If they can't accommodate you your only other choice is find a doctor who will work with you. Regards, John
Name: 
John
Email: 
Raffie326@gmail.com
Having a chaperone is completely useless, it's just another person in the room standing around doing nothing but gawking at you. And, they bill for that too. TV shows are partially to blame as to how women treat men in the health system. It shows female doctors and nurses treating men like crap and doing what ever they want with them. If they showed female patients being treated like they treat men, they would scream bloody murder so loud that the earth would wobble out of orbit.
Name: 
Jesse Stone
Email: 
jesse.stone307@yahoo.com
Jesse. Women have been yelling at the medical community for years and the system has listened. You won't see a male tech giving a woman a mammogram. Rarely will you see a male RN in L&D either. You see new women's healthcare clinics going up all over the country. Why, because women found their voice and spoke up. You rarely hear much less read about a men's clinic going up. Why is that? It's because men don't want to be seen as being weak so rather than open their mouths & tell the medical community that this is unacceptable they allow the system to rip their dignity away from them and leave them feeling totally embarrassed and humiliated. Urology is where men should take a stand and take back what the medical community stole from every man that walked through their doors. It isn't the way it has to be if every man can find the courage to find his voice & tell them you require same gender care for intimate exams, tests, and procedures. If they say not possible you push back. Tell them, you'll take your case to a facility that works with their male patients and you'll let others know how unfriendly they are towards male patients. If women can force change to the system, why can't men? We're not a bunch of wusses. We're human beings. We just like our female counterparts have the right to choose who is part of our medical team. It's time the medical establishment gave us our dues. If you want to be treated like objects that they talk and joke about then don't say anything. If you want your dignity intact from the time you enter a facility until you leave, it's time to SPEAK UP! Urology is the key domino. Topple that area and the others will fall in place. Change is never easy but this change is long overdue. It's up to you. Be needlessly exposed in front of women you don't know but you can rest assure will pass on all about their interaction with you. Or, have same gender care and have a dignified peaceful visit. It's up to you guys! Regards, John
Name: 
John
Email: 
Raffie326@gmail.com
I've developed a set of contingency plans, with the help of my therapist. If I'm ever seeing a new doctor, I will arrange what's called an "establish care" visit, to discuss my own strict no-chaperone policy BEFORE any exam or procedure takes place. If I'm ever in another ambush situation, I will tell the spectator to leave, then explain my personal history and ask the doctor to waive her or his "chaperone" requirement. If they're not willing, I'll ask them to switch with a colleague so that I don't have to reschedule. If that's not possible and I do have to reschedule or go elsewhere, I'll ask for a refund of any copays and also report the incomplete encounter to my insurance company. Like RLU, my current PCP believes that male providers typically don't require "chaperones" for male patients, but it seems that malpractice insurers and medical attorneys are strongly advising ALL providers to require witnesses for all intimate encounters, whether with same-sex or opposite-sex patients.
Name: 
Anonymous
Email: 
guthfamily1@hotmail.com
You didn't cite any sources or research for female chaperones being an issue. Is that purely anecdotal? Also, it doesn't make the article look good that there are several typos...
Name: 
Becky
Email: 
rebecca.velasco@corvallisclinic.com
Becky, I am not sure if you were addressing my comment as above, or addressing the entire forum, but the entry of more and more woman into the medical workforce as nurses, and Nurse Practitioners, and doctors, has been a growing concern for male patients for quite some time. The medical schools need to change their standards and teaching practices to deal with the respect and modesty of male patients. One example I can give is the use of Female Doctors, NPs and nurses hired by school districts, in High School and middle school Male sport physicals. This practice in my opinion is very alarming. Reason being is this is a very impressionable age in boys lives, and males in particular in these exams are forced to full male exposure. Girls in the same sports physicals are not required to nudity at all, even though it is documented that girls can get hernia's as well and why they aren't checked in the same manner as boys is perplexing. Hernia checks for boys via dropping of pants, to a female doctor, and female nurse (chaperone) can be very embarrassing to boys, especially when most of them have never even been In the presence of a woman sexually. I have personally talked to my friends in school in the past that have said "I would go out for sports, but I'm not dropping my pants in front of the school Nurse" (Now add a female doctor to the mix) There is an excellent article by a medical doctor on this issue. Don't just take my opinion on the issue, Male Doctors have the same opinion regarding females in male intimate exams. http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/08/sports-physicals-includes-provisions-privacy.html
Name: 
JIm
Email: 
jimpatdoyle@gmail.com
Here in Wyoming, school nurses aren't permitted to do sports physicals, not only would the kids not allow that but us parents wouldn't put up with it either, they're done by the family's own doctors. Things are done much differently out here
Name: 
Jesse Stone
Email: 
jesse.stone307@yahoo.com
Jesse, however does the school allow Female Doctors to the exams as many other school districts have done or are currently doing? If so, the school nurse could easily be asked to be a chaperon. This would place middle school and high school boys in t e presence of 2 females in the exam. We had a male doctor doing our sports physicals growing up in school, and the school nurse (female) was present in the room, when we had to drop our shorts and cough. She had first hand sight standing no more than 3 to 4 feet from us and stood right there looking down at our privates as each one of us did it, holding on to a clipboard checking us off. this would NEVER be allowed for girls with a male doctor, and male nurse. In fact, girls don't have to expose anything during those exams. For that reason it would make PERFECT sense to have a male doctor do the exam for both genders.
Name: 
Jim
Email: 
jimpatdoyle@gmail.com
Hi Jim, Your article about schools and nudity reminds me of reading about some of the junior and senior high schools like in Chicago, Texas, Michigan, and some other areas that in the 60s that made it mandatory that the boys had to swim nude in gym class with females that had to swim with suits on. I think this was one big turning point in the advancement of destroying the modesty, dignaty, and respect to boys and men. It seemed like a good idea at that time period when the boys could swim nude at school when it was just the boys. The problem was it was mandatory for boys to swim naked. The much larger problem got introduced when the schools started letting the girls in to swim with them and they were required to wear swim suits. That was just the biginning of the humiliation of boys. It would have been a totally different situation if the girls were required to swim nude as well but that wasn't going to happen, they were allowed to humiliate boys but not the girls. The second stage to further humiliate the boys in during the meets, they started letting the mothers, aunts, sisters, and even the female classmates in to watch them swim naked. These are the same girl classmates that were in their math and english classes together. I'm sure that the girls weren't there to watch the swimming, they were there to check out and perv on the naked boys. Another problem was photographers were allowed into the area where the boys were showering and put the photo in public magazines like Life magazine. It's no wonder why ithe nude swimming had to come to a stop in the early 70s because the humiliation and the perving on the school age boys was spiraling out of control. Nobody back in that day seemed to have made much of a fuss about the boys swimming nude but if the school tried to make it mandatory that the girls swim nude in front of the boys, the women of that day would have been screaming bloody murder so loud that the earth would have wobbled out of orbit. I've heard a few lame excusses why they had to make it madatory for boys to swim naked. The first lame excuse was that the swim trunks were causing a problem with the hygiene of the pool. Well, if that was a problem, why did the girls wear swim suits?? Another stupid idea for it was that the girls needed to see what the boys had to rid themselves of their curiosity. I can't recal if that statement was from a Dear Abby column or that was from a school. There is no mention that the boys have a curiosity about the girls and that's why the girls should swim naked!!! I recall listening to a sound bite of a guy that was in high school in the 60s and he said that at times the coach couldn't make it so the school would just put a female substitute teacher in to perv on the boys. Talk about absolutely no dignity or respect for the boys. The policy should have been if a female was going to fill in for the male coach, she had to be naked with the boys, that would have stopped that perving crap dead in it's tracks.
Name: 
Jesse Stone
Email: 
jesse.stone307@yahoo.com
Can you imagine the outcry that would go out if women were forced like their male counterparts to endure opposite gender care for their intimate exams? Women would have to take the luck of the draw like men do. Their mammograms could be done by male x-ray techs. Hiring practices must be changed to force the healthcare industry to stop making excuses and start hiring an EQUAL number of male & female nurses, and techs. Lawsuits look to be the only way they will listen as to date they refuse to acknowledge the issue exists. Once a lawsuit is filed, all their dirty laundry will be exposed and the public will finally see these people for who they really are. The 5 nurses in Denver and the debacle in Pittsburgh are only the tip of the iceberg. The flood gates need to be opened and the public made aware of the way these so-called professionals (I refer to them simply as healthcare employees. As far as I'm concerned they are not professionals at all), treat patients. It's time for Lady Justice to weigh in and re-balance the scales of healthcare in this country. Both men and women need to put their fears aside and speak up when they aren't comfortable with their treatment. Nobody should have to put up with "drop your pants, you don't have anything we haven't already seen before." The system doesn't need people like these and the industry has proven beyond any shadow of a doubt, it needs help from the public to get rid of them. regards, John
Name: 
John
Email: 
raffie326@gmail.com
As a male patient, I find being examined by a female physician far less embarrassing than with a male physician. I also feel that a female appears more sensitive, a more intent listener and more easy to confide in regarding intimacy concerns and issues of dysfunction. Becoming "aroused" has never been a problem.
Name: 
George
Email: 
gwood1046@aol.com
George, what you describe is exactly how a "patient" should feel, despite gender of the doctor. However, this is not the golden case. Many men have issues regarding (down below) who really feel more comfortable talking with a man about issues. And there is nothing wrong with that. Some men, will accept a physical/exam with a woman doctor, PROVIDONG she doesn't break that trust, by ambushing the man with ANOTHER female chaperone. I think the MAJORITY of complaints in this very IMPORTANT website, from men, is when that happens. The female doctor knows damn well that the same gender chaperon is SUPPOSED to be provided for the patient, but knows she only has FEMALE chaperones, and attempts to get the man to accept the female chaperone to get through the exam, through the ambush technique. This is really DISRESPECTFUL of the male patient, when the knock on the door comes, and 2 female walk in. Let me state that this situation would NEVER EVER happen to a woman. Male Doctors are MUCH smarter than to place a woman in that situation. It is about time Woman doctors do the same. Pressure on doctors practices to provide MALE CHAPERONES for male patients is the ONLY ANSWER !!!!!!!!!!!! I still cannot believe a female doctor would have the (balls) to think a male patient would be OK with an ambush. Female doctors need to COMMUNICATE in the least........... Sir, I need to have a chaperone in this exam... I will be bringing in another female technician to be in the exam. I will place barriers so that she will not be able to see your privates. IS THIS OK WITH YOU? THAT IS WHAT MOST MALES really want......................... is this too much to ask ?????
Name: 
JIM
Email: 
jimpatdoyle@gmail.com
There's a wide variance in patient preferences. Having suffered one ambush (female NP with female nurse), I can't stomach the idea of any "chaperone," male or female. The idea of someone in the room whose sole function is to watch is embarrassing and degrading to me.
Name: 
RG
Email: 
guthfamily1@hotmail.com
George, I agree with you. I both have (and prefer) a female doctor. She's is compassionate, detailed, never rushes when answering my questions, makes me feel comfortable and eases my embarrassment when I'm exposed. Her nurses and office staff, all women, are all great, too. Even though it's still embarrassing, I find it much less awkward being examined by a female medical provider. I'd rather feel a little embarrassed than feel quite awkward, uneasy and uncomfortable. My colorectal surgeon is also female. On some visits, the female nurse practitioner has reviewed my symptoms and general health (vitals, etc.) before the doctor came in. On two occasions once I was undressed the nurse practitioner returned into the exam room with the doctor and stayed there observing and taking notes as I was examined. I wasn't exactly told that would happen. It's an embarrassing exam anyway no matter who is in the room. But I didn't mind the n.p. being there by necessity. It's not like she called in the female receptionist for a show and tell. Nurses and nurse practitioner are taking over more duties that in the past were done by doctors. It's of course about time and money, but that's just the way it is.
Name: 
PV
Email: 
phillip.virgencito@mail.com
As a male, I have always had a strong preference for male doctors. But for several years I had a young female doctor. I thought she was as good as they come, and my health is more important than gender. I have since returned to a male doctor, due to insurance issues. I will see a female doctor for an acute problem as scheduling is sometimes an issue, so I take what is available. But my current male doctor is highly qualified and I will stay with him.
Name: 
Male patient
Email: 
malepatient@aollll.com
I feel better being examined by a female doctor, they take the time to explain things and very compassionate, I am not afraid of discussing my male problems with her, if I get an erection I would feel better it happen with a female then a male. just me.
Name: 
Lane
Email: 
lane-widener@bellsouth.net

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Are male patients comfortable with women doctors?