GUEST POST BY ROBERT UNDERHILL

“Medicine is gender neutral” is a true enough statement if by that we mean female nurses and techs are comfortable providing virtually all of the intimate care for men and women.  Gender neutral works for the caregivers perhaps, but oftentimes not for the men.

The relative male-female parity amongst physician ranks generally affords both men and women with sufficient options.  The problem for men is lack of options at the nursing and tech level, where most intimate care occurs.  We don’t expect women to have male techs for their mammograms.  Why do we expect men to have testicular ultrasounds by female techs?  Why do urology practices with predominantly male patients only have female nurses & techs for cystoscopies and other very intimate procedures?  Why the double standard?

As with any human trait, there is a continuum when we’re talking about modesty.  On one end of the spectrum are those guys who have no modesty whatsoever.  The healthcare system is fine as is for them.  On the other end are men who forego healthcare rather than have female nurses and techs for intimate care.  The system is failing those men.  Most men are somewhere in-between the two extremes.

Interestingly, when articles are written about men not going to the doctor, modesty is never listed as one of the reasons.  Why is this?  Partly because it is the elephant in the room that the medical world does not want to discuss and partly because men are afraid to speak up.  Why won’t the medical world acknowledge the issue?  Because they’d then be obligated to do something about it.  Why won’t men speak up?  Because all too often when he does he gets “you don’t have anything I haven’t seen”, “don’t be silly”, or “we’re all professionals here”.

Basic bullying and shaming techniques are intended to shut down the conversation rather than acknowledge the concern and then speak to it.  It actually works most of the time but it greatly amplifies the patient’s embarrassment.   Better to instead respond with “I understand your concern and wish I could accommodate your request but we don’t have any male staff.  Know that I take your privacy seriously and that your exposure will be kept to the absolute minimum”.  And then give an example or two of how you do that.

Being empathetic in this manner will satisfy many modesty concerns.  What you don’t know is that he may have been fearful of repeating a particularly bad experience.  That you are comfortable with the man’s exposure is irrelevant.  He is the only naked person in the room and it is his exposure that he is concerned about, not your comfort.

But most guys have no modesty you say; it is a rarity to encounter a modest guy.  Not even close on the first point.  Correct on the second, but only because you didn’t know he was modest.  Most are afraid to admit it because doing so is not “manly”.  Societal norms say men are not supposed to be modest; that it is a sign of weakness.  Males are socialized from childhood that when faced with an embarrassing medical exam or procedure to “man up” making believe it doesn’t bother them.  To acknowledge embarrassment only serves to amplify it.  This is what they have been doing since their first sports physical in Middle School when the female NP hired by the school (with a female assistant by her side) does a genital exam.  Such a powerful message from the school is not forgotten.

Female nurses and techs do not intentionally embarrass their male patients.  They’re just doing their job how they’ve been trained.  The problem is that training all too often starts with the premise that men have no modesty.  Better training is needed.  Here’s a start.  If he jokes about his exposure, he’s trying to hide his embarrassment from you.  If he maintains a tense silence, he’s just plain embarrassed.

Many men have mastered the “it doesn’t bother me” disguise and you won’t detect anything at all.  What can you do to ease the embarrassment, or at least not make it worse?  Ask him if he’d prefer your male co-worker do the intimate procedure.  Knock and ask if it is OK to enter the room.  Close the door or pull the curtain.  Kick anyone out that doesn’t need to be there; don’t turn it into a spectator sport.  Ask for an OK before bringing a student into the room and properly introduce them, including what exactly they are.  Use a sheet to keep the genitals covered before you pull the gown up to examine the abdomen.  Ask before lifting the gown to check the catheter.  Basically give him the same consideration you’d want your Dad, brother, husband, boyfriend, or son given in the same circumstance.

If in doubt about whether a protocol is OK, reverse the gender of everyone in the room and then ask yourself the question.  If the answer is no, then it’s not OK for your male patient either.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 Robert Underhill is a retired executive living in Vermont. More importantly, he is a husband, father, and grandfather.  His goal is to raise awareness to the lack of attention paid to men’s modestly and hopes to achieve gender parity throughout all levels of the healthcare team. We sincerely wish more men will add their voices to this very important yet neglected topic. 

© 2016, Linda Girgis MD. All rights reserved.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2016 Linda Girgis, MD, FAAFP

51 thoughts on “Why Men Patients are Forced to Man Up in the Medical Setting

  1. While in New York City I went to see urologist Dr. David Samadi, who is often seen on TV as a medical advice consultant. In the course of my examination I was unclothed from the waist down and a young and attractive female nurse injected lidocaine in my urethra to prepare me for the doctor’s insertion of a camera device. I lay there for several minutes as the nurse cleaned up and attempted a friendly chat. During this time another female nurse came in briefly and appeared to be gathering something. All while I am totally exposed. When the doctor came in he brought with him a third female nurse and the first one left. While he was doing the insertion of the camera device with the nurse assisting him, the nurse who had come in earlier came back again. I noticed that there was not a male nurse to be seen, and the entire staff that I saw was female. I left there feeling diminished.

    Here in Los Angeles I went to Tower Urology at Cedars-Sinai Hospital to see Dr. Premal Desai. Several tests were done on me and every nurse and technician was male. I can’t tell you what a difference it made in the way I felt about the experience in contrast! There were plenty of female nurses and techs present, but it was obvious they assign males to male patients. I’ve returned there several times and I am always put in the care of male staff. I leave their office feeling good about my time in that office rather than humiliated. If I were still in NYC I doubt I would have returned to Dr. Samadi’s office, and because I probably wouldn’t have asked of another doctor’s office if they have males to attend to me, I may not have followed through with the care I needed.

    1. Do you think this was because of different practices in different cities or it was related to just that medical office?

      1. Honestly, what’s the big deal? What difference does it make who sees what? We’re all human beings.

        1. For many, it is a big deal and we should respect their modesty. Many find it embarrassing to be undressed in front of others, esp. when there is more than 1 person present. A patient is already anxious about what may be wrong with them or what procedure will be done to them. We need to lessen their discomfort. Getting medical care should not be a humiliating experience. Patients need to be able to trust that the healthcare workers have their best interests at heart. They should help ease suffering rather than contribute to it.

          1. Okay, I guess I can understand that someone may find it embarrassing to be undressed, but what does that have to do with the sex of the doctor or nurse? And embarrassment doesn’t equate to humiliation- isn’t that a bit extreme? However, I have long noticed the double standard regarding male vs female nudity, i.e. male nudity is not as big a deal in many cases, particularly for young people.

          2. Dr. Linda — Thank you for this clear and eloquent statement of the case. Embarrassment and unnecessary invasion of bodily privacy do indeed cause real emotional suffering; they do interfere with the patient’s care, and tolerance does vary from individual to individual.

            I wish your comment could be reproduced and hung on the walls of every examination room in the country.

        2. Carl, it appears you haven’t read the other comments in this discussion where the reasons for discomfort are clearly stated. YOU may not have a problem with being nude or exposed in the presence of females who are strangers to you, or maybe you enjoy it, but a LOT (maybe most) of men do. When I’m nude in the presence of a woman it is for the purpose of sexual activity, but it is very difficult for me to be exposed in the presence of women for any other purpose. And don’t tell me that it should be OK because they are professionals, because they are also females who look and often talk about it later. Just as you said, “We’re all human!”

      2. No, Dr. Linda, I have rarely had a doctor who seemed to take male modesty into consideration. Even when there were males on staff who could have been assigned to me, they operate on the assumption that all their staff are professionals and it shouldn’t matter. One time when I had to go to the ER for a non life threatening issue, but for which I had to be completely undressed, it was females who took care of me, when I saw males who could have done it just standing around. On that occasion also, the curtains were not drawn for me as I lay there for all the world to see, but I noticed that the female patients were very carefully closed off from any prying eyes.

    2. I have a great mental exercise people can do to better realize how you felt at your men’s health care provider. (Works for either sex just swap genders) I’m using it to mentally prepare myself for upcoming procedures.
      Lay face up, naked on your bed in your bedroom. Imagine it’s about the size of the doc’s office. Extend an arm as though needed for a test. Then imagine the aide holding your arm is a very young female. She’s glancing at your private parts. Look down and see what she is looking at. Next imagine another female (your age) enters and casually views your private parts and then another. They all view your exposed, private parts and began to prepare and discuss the procedure until the doc shows up 4-5 minutes later to begin the REALLY intimate stuff. A few of the females aid the doc, others leave and are replaced by new ones. All are fully viewing your private parts, sometimes glancing to put a face with the “parts.” You are naked in a room full of women of varying ages and your private parts are the main attraction. Imagine yourself in that situation and you may have a tiny glimpse of how embarrassing, horrible humiliating male urological health care is in most practices and hospitals.
      Oh, and if it’s your prostate, just raise and hold your legs like they’re in stirrups while you imagine the women in the room with you.
      Don’t take this exercise as gratuitous, it’s not. For me it’s mental preparation to lessen mental effects. For many men it’s humiliation happening daily.

  2. I submitted a reply approximately a couple of weeks ago and have not seen it posted. I was contrasting my experience with two different doctors; one in NYC and the other in LA. Is there a problem?

    1. Hi Lee! My apologies for any delay. I have been incredibly busy. I went back and approved the comments that were waiting approval but I don’t see the one you mentioned. I don’t know what happened to it but if you would like to post it again, I will be sure to approve it right away.
      Dr. Linda

    1. I had read that and was appalled that they weren’t fired on the spot. Sad to say, but the reality is that because the patient was a male it is not viewed as such a big deal. The nurses got a relative slap on the wrist and are back at work, presumably with full access to the male patients for their salacious entertainment. Society does not yet view men as deserving of basic dignity in medical settings, nor apparently after we’re dead either.

      1. If it happened to a woman with male healthcare providers, they likely would have been suspended and possibly prosecuted.

  3. i am in the first visits of duel male problems, front end and rear. My first experiences with the doc’s team of young female nurses have been very embarrassing. my understanding of the procedures ahead of me, which will probably be performed by basically all-female staffs sounds like total humiliation in an already horrible situation. MY QUESTION: do female caregivers have any idea of the humiliation and embarrassment their male patients may be going thru? just to know that they know may be some comfort. i am thankful for their care; but, for me it feels all wrong.

    1. Kt, I think that the female nurses & techs think that so long as they are polite and act in a professional manner that men are supposed to be OK with it. Men do own much of that perception in that men rarely speak up and ask for male staff or complain if the nurses & techs have been a bit too casual with their exposure (too much exposed, or exposed for too long, or exposed to more eyes than is necessary).

      Being polite is not the same as being respectful. I wish the medical world knew this.

  4. Federal regulators need to pass a law banning all healthcare employees from carrying cellphones with cameras on the job.

    First offense, warning and loss of one day’s pay. If caught with patient pics, immediate termination.
    Second offense, suspended a week no pay. If caught with patient pics, immediate termination.
    Third offense, employee is fired.

    Facilities aren’t doing enough to protect their patients. It’s time for regulators to step up and protect the public they serve.

    The temptation has got to be removed. Only way to do that, is remove the camera phones. Any ban must be backed up with teeth or it won’t be effective.

    Regards,
    John

  5. Thank you for putting this point of view out there. I’ve been emotionally distress every time I think about my recent visit to the urologist and procedures done by a very young female. She entered, took my info and chatted and then ended up being the one to do the procedure . I’m 57. Violated? Upset I didn’t think to ask for a male nurse? Whatever, the emotions are stressful. I’ll request the male nurse next time.

  6. Maybe I’m unusual but I don’t mind at all having a woman examine me — actually I think I prefer it, it’s more natural. I don’t really think that women doctors or nurses are ogling me, I’m not that gorgeous. The only doctor who ever did a thorough testicular exam as part of a physical was female. Perhaps a male doctor would have been embarrassed by touching me that way.

  7. These issues always come up under modesty issues. They are ” Not ” modesty issues, rather respectful care. A female nurse recently in NY surrendered her nursing license for taking a cell phone pic of a male patients genitals and sending it to her coworkers. A female physician was sexually assaulting her male patients for years at a hospital in New Mexico and the OR staff never reported it. There is no such thing as gender neutral. As a male patient I want the EXACT same privacy and respectful care as female patients receive. There are NO male mammographers and no male RN’s working in L&D . Why can male patients not receive the same respectful care.?

  8. Yes,I would like to say my modesty was not taking into consideration at a place called Mid -Valley Surgery Center.They wheeled me into a very large room with other patients and staff.Had me lay on my stomach uncovered in front of everybody,some female nurse was putting a sticky foam on my buttocks for i don’t know what,then they sedated me instead of the area where i was to get a epidural steroid injection.I think they thought I was knocked out,because the nurse at my rear said “Did you get that picture”. Twice she asked this other nurse.I seen the nurse hold up her phone in the air like yes,yes.I went into a panicked state.Next thing I knew I was back in the changing room with the gown thrown over me.When I put in a grievance later in the week.The grievance dept of IEHP treated me like I was overreacting.And found In favor of them.I will never go to a facility,hospital,Doctor again.

  9. Very well spoken. The problem starts with the AMA. They’ve rurned a deaf ear and a blind eye to this issue. Very well knowing what the answer to this problem is. It seens that all they’re interested in is money along with the pharmaceutical industry. Then they wonder why men don’t go to tbe doctor. They’re as bad as whats going on in washington d.c. Look in the mirror people.

  10. For nearly three decades I worked in the juvenile justice system with 16 to 19 year old boys who were incarcerated. In the early ’80s, because of equal access laws, women began to be hired to do the same jobs the men did. It was a disaster, but it remains that way to this day, no matter how much evidence to the contrary. There are frequent fights between the boys, and all the women staff can do is run in circles blowing their whistles until male staff gets there to break them up. But no where is it more inappropriate for women to be working in the male facilities than in the dorms where the boys sleep, shower and use the bathroom. The dorms at all the county facilities are wide-open spaces where there is no way to have any privacy. The boys have to be watched as they shower and use the toilet, and as they change clothes. A large percentage of the females who work in these facilities are young women, which creates a unique problem when an 18 to 19 year old young man is being observed in the shower by a 22 to 23 year old young woman. I could tell many stories of inappropriate behavior by women on the job, and often the boys were left confused and victimized. Very often I would hear these women make lurid observations about the boys. So, again, just because women who are working with males might appear to be doing it in a professional manner, everybody knows there is something wrong when a male is naked and exposed in the presence of women. This relates to the discussion of male modesty in the medical professions, because there are places that women just don’t belong, just as males don’t belong in similar places for the modesty of women. And oddly enough, in the facilities for the incarcerated young women, there are only a few men who are there when they need the muscle, but these males are almost never in the dorms.

  11. You are absolutely right!!!!! There is no excuse for ignorance. The medical profeddion is very ignorant! Men should have the same options as females. Whether its for testing, office visit or surgery. Then many wonder why do men retaliate so much against the medical profession with guns ect? Perhaps they’re not reslising the problem that they created. I speak up for myself. Afterall no one else will. I’ve been abused so many times by medical staff that I had enough of their mess. Yes they’re human but there are certain things you just dont do to males or females. I other words there are no ethics or morality.

  12. Finally, someone who gets it! Some excellent points made in this article…

    Interestingly, when articles are written about men not going to the doctor, modesty is never listed as one of the reasons.

    …And as stated, the medical profession is completely indifferent to male modesty and will routinely dismiss male patients’ wishes with bullying and shaming tactics.

    Basic bullying and shaming techniques are intended to shut down the conversation rather than acknowledge the concern and then speak to it. It actually works most of the time but it greatly amplifies the patient’s embarrassment.

    …Aside from being a very nasty — indeed, pretty evil — way of dealing with a patient who is putting his trust in you. How many men after receiving such abuse subsequently avoid a repeat and consequently experience preventable medical problems as a result? …But how many medical professionals give a damn?

    That you are comfortable with the man’s exposure is irrelevant. He is the only naked person in the room and it is his exposure that he is concerned about, not your comfort.

    Exactly — the standard “you haven’t got anything I haven’t seen before” dismissal could be equally well applied by the male patient to the female staff member — how would she feel about the male patient being a spectator at her next vaginal examination? It’s utterly irrelevant how comfortable the medical personnel feel: it’s the patient who’s undergoing the distress.

    But most guys have no modesty you say; it is a rarity to encounter a modest guy. Not even close on the first point. Correct on the second, but only because you didn’t know he was modest. Most are afraid to admit it because doing so is not “manly”. Societal norms say men are not supposed to be modest; that it is a sign of weakness. Males are socialized from childhood that when faced with an embarrassing medical exam or procedure to “man up” making believe it doesn’t bother them. To acknowledge embarrassment only serves to amplify it. This is what they have been doing since their first sports physical in Middle School when the female NP hired by the school (with a female assistant by her side) does a genital exam. Such a powerful message from the school is not forgotten.

    But how many female medical personnel are remotely interested in male concern about modesty? How many would even care if informed?

  13. I had a close female friend who was a nurse. Through her I became friends with some of her co-workers. We were in our twenties and early thirties and these people talked all the time about their male patients in a way that caused me to be very concerned about my modesty around young female caretakers. They discussed the physical attributes of male patients very openly, and even laughed about one guy who didn’t “measure up” to their expectations. I remember them talking about one young and handsome man who was safely enough asleep that the women went into his room one by one to raise the covers and check him out. So, just because a female nurse or tech can behave “professionally” in the presence of a patient, she is still a heterosexual woman who has close friends who she is perfectly free to talk to about her day at work. I don’t want my exposure to be fodder for some woman’s chit-chat on the weekend gossip line.

    1. Hello Regan:

      Your female nurse friend like her female nursing colleagues are what they proudly call themselves the “World Champions” of gossipers.

      They’re so busy gossiping to each other about each other and their patient interactions that they have completely forgotten why it was they entered the field of nursing.

      I for one am truly amazed, at how Gallup can year after year proclaim that nursing is the most trusted and ethical field. They must be talking to people that haven’t had to use the system yet.

      Once upon a time, women went into nursing with the honest intention that they wanted to help people and improve the human condition.

      The same cannot be said about women entering the field today. Today, it’s not about answering a call to help the sick or improve the human condition. Today, it’s all about a paycheck.

      These days, there are very few “real” Florence Nightingale’s left in our healthcare system.

      It comes as no surprise that their third most gossiped about category, is the male appendage. If you’re “normal” sized, they don’t bother with you. However, be thee on the large or small size, now that’s something to gossip about and they will gossip about you until everyone knows about you.

      An outsider would ask, what happened to nurses advocating for their patient? One cannot be a true advocate and a gossiper.

      Gossip has become so ingrained into the nursing culture now, that many have completely forgotten why it is they became a nurse in the first place and the sad thing about that is, their patients are paying the price.

      Florence Nightingale once said “The very first requirement in a hospital is that it should do the sick no harm.” She also believed that a nurse’s ethical duty was first and foremost to care for the patient.

      The “Practical Nurses Pledge” states that every nurse will not reveal any confidential information that may come to their knowledge in the course of their work.

      Aren’t people’s body parts considered confidential information? So why are you gossiping about peoples body parts? You’re in direct violation of the pledge you once told everyone you’d live by.

      The ANA revised the Code of Ethics for Nurses with Interpretive Statements and declared 2015 as the year of ethics in nursing. Too bad that year didn’t carry forward to subsequent years.

      Every time a nurse needlessly exposes their patient and then goes off gossiping about their patient they are in direct violation of their own code of ethics.

      The nursing profession right now reminds me of a patient with amnesia.

      Both are looking for their identity.

      Could nurses be gossiping about their patients as a coping mechanism to offset their frustration with each other and their administrations?

      One nurse who is tired of all the bullying that is currently running rampant through the field hit the nail on the head when they said.

      “How can one demand respect when we don’t treat our patients with respect?”

      Nurses are out there demanding respect from one another and everyone else. They don’t seem to get it.

      Respect isn’t given.

      Respect is EARNED.

      The only way gossiping in the healthcare industry is ever to be curbed or stopped is from the top.

      It’s up to the administrators to set forth a zero-tolerance policy on gossiping and bullying. Then back up that policy with teeth so the message gets across to all personnel no matter their pay grade or title.

      To all nurses be thee male or female that reads this.

      Each and every time you feel the urge to gossip about an interaction between you and your patient remember, you are do the following.

      1. Disrespecting and compromising your patient.
      2. Weakening the nurse-patient relationship.
      3. Violating your own professions code of ethics.
      4. Ruining your own reputation.

      Is that really what you want to do? Is it really worth it? If you said yes to either question then nursing isn’t your calling, please find another career.

      Regards,
      Raffie

  14. Two weeks ago I had a cosmetic procedure that required general anesthesia, after which I was unable to urinate. A male nurse was tending to me and he said he could insert a catheter, and he went to get the materials he needed to do that. A female nurse overheard him and she left the room right after him. In less than a minute a female doctor, this female nurse and three other female nurses were back in my room prepared to insert the catheter. Just as the doctor was beginning, the male nurse returned to the room prepared to do what he said he was going to do, and saw these five women surrounding my bed. He pointed out that he was going to do the procedure, but the lady doctor told him she was taking care of it. The guy shrugged and left, but not before catching my eye with a disapproving look. We both knew what was going on there. I was seething with anger at this purposeful and unnecessary violation of my privacy, and felt completely objectified at giving these young women their thrill to share with their friends later.

    1. Reagan, file a complaint with the hospital and demand an explanation for why the male nurse was overridden and why there had to be 5 women to do the catheter. They do that kind of stuff because they know most men will be too embarrassed to speak up or to complain afterwards. It is only by calling them out on it that we have any hope of men being afforded basic respect in the medical world.

    2. That’s absolutely dreadful. Reverse the sexes and imagine the furore that would have ensued, had a female nurse been displaced by five men to insert a catheter…

      When it comes to medicine (as with life in general), women matter and men don’t.

  15. Dr. Girgis — Thank you for posting this article and for hearing us. I had an “ambush” encounter very similar to Jim’s (April 10, 2017, above), with a female NP I’d been seeing for 5-6 years and thought I had a good working relationship with. Then I had my first “intimate” exam with her — regarding a mass I’d noticed on my left testicle. After the initial discussion, she left while I undressed, lay down on the exam table, and covered myself with a drape as she instructed. But when she opened the door again, one of the intake nurses (also female) was right behind her. Without a word to me, they positioned themselves directly across from each other at my hips. Then the NP pulled the drape completely off me, and I was exposed to both women from waist to ankles. I was so shocked and embarrassed I literally couldn’t speak – the NP hadn’t said anything beforehand about bringing in a witness, never explained why it was necessary, and never asked my permission for it (which I certainly would not have given). Before this encounter, I had never even heard of “chaperones,” and had never been undressed in a doctor’s office for anyone but that doctor. The whole encounter left me feeling insulted, disrespected, and humiliated. I had trouble sleeping and focussing at my job, and ended up seeing a therapist for a few months.

    To give credit where it’s due, I did register a complaint and the group practice recently retrained all of their providers and nursing staff on better communication with patients. They have also recognized the need to provide “chaperones” of the same sex as the patient, not the provider. For myself, however, I have decided that I cannot risk being exposed to another unwanted “chaperone” of either sex. Therefore, I have reluctantly accepted my (female) therapist’s advice to see only male physicians or NP’s in future. Up until this experience, I actually preferred female providers, but I cannot risk the emotional harm of another ambush.

    I do have one question that was never answered. What specific reasons would a female physician have for requiring a witness when doing intimate procedures on a male? I understand the history of male physicians abusing female patients, but the reverse is vanishingly rare, as are sexual misconduct lawsuits by male patients against female physicians. Some of the reading I’ve done suggests that some female physicians simply feel uncomfortable around male nudity. I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you.

    1. Hi! Thanks for your comments. We were trained since the time we were students to always have a chaperone with us when we are examining a member of the opposite sex. This purely for medicolegal reasons. I remember being told that you can never be sure who will try to make a complaint.

      1. Thank you for the additional information. Every study I’ve read indicates that male patients overwhelmingly (85%-99%) prefer NOT to have a witness or observer (of either sex) during intimate procedures. Given that, I wonder if it might be time for medical schools to rethink their advice to automatically require “chaperones” for opposite-sex intimate encounters. Such a rigid policy is likely to exacerbate the issue of male patients’ distrust of female providers. Regarding legal concerns, perhaps some kind of waiver could be provided in exchange for dropping the automatic requirement? Again, I appreciate your willingness to provide a forum for discussing this issue.

      2. But let me ask you this, were you “trained” to NOT inform your male patient, that you would be bringing in ANOTHER female, to be the chaperone? This is 99% of the issue that MOST men have…not informing men, when you know the chaperone will be female. THEN…expecting him to succumb to the embarrassment of both of you seeing his private parts. I would also ask the question …how many females would be comfortable, if they were about to undergo an intimate exam, if a male doctor asked another male to come in and watch her exam. Would she allow the exam to proceed? WHY is it that this still goes on? Why doesn’t the medical field acknowledge and change? Why are men expected to endure this? I would love to know, from a female doctor, what her prospective is….knowing that the male patient will be uncomfortable with this. And still the exam continues. Will you, take a drape, in the least, to prevent your female chaperon from seeing anything? Or allow her to view as well?

  16. Very well stated. I am a male that doesn’t see a doctor for anything other than routine blood work and exams. I have no issues with my doctor but far too often I have gone in for tests or proceedurs and been undressed with all women. I know I have urological issues but will not go. The last time I went I was left in a room naked from the waist down with two females. It was humiliating and I never went back.

    1. What would help future patients is if you told the urologist why you won’t be back. I silently suffered through the indignities for years but finally found my voice. It was liberating. I am always polite and professional, but I do speak up. If enough of us speak up they won’t be able to continue pretending that there isn’t a problem.

    2. Hello Joe Spot.

      You are NOT alone. There are many men who suffer in silence because the urology field refuses to accept and acknowledge the fact that there are male patients who just don’t feel comfortable being exposed and handled in such an intimate way in front of women. A male nurse has a better understanding of what a male patient might be going through. Urology just won’t accept that fact! Just like a female nurse in L&D would have a better understanding of what a woman is feeling during childbirth.

      Until such time as the urology field accepts this fact of life and hires more male nurses to attend to male patient’s needs, men will continue to forego needed medical tests and procedures rather than hand their dignity over at the door.

      It seem that only when mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters start losing their men earlier than they should, will the country wake up and address this issue.

      Regards,
      Raffie

  17. I went for a routine physical. EKG, etc. I hadn’t seen a doctor in 10 years, because of no healthcare. I had submitted a pre-exam letter explaining some of my concerns. I had a small lump around my right testicle. I was told in the waiting room at my visit the NPA does all the exams. Hesitantly I agreed. I was told to undress, and put on a blue gown. She knocked and came in. I went through all the regular things. The first issue I encountered was while on the table with wires hooked up, with gown open, another “Female” tech came in without knocking, who I didn’t know, and got some supplies out of a side unit, looked at me, then left. No words exchanged.
    Then it came time for the intimate part. She excused herself, and then came in a minute later, with another female tech in blue. (This is referred to as an ambush, by the way) I was given a prostate exam in her presence. Then she asked me to turn over and she examined my genitals, and asked about the testicle issue. She attempted to find the lump, in front of the other female tech who held a hand-held light on the area, and after feeling the testicle for several minutes, could not locate it. The manipulation actually left me feeling sore in the area. She could NOT find it. After the exam she recommended an Ultrasound. I drove across town, and went to an imagine center for Ultrasounds. I gave my sheet to the “female receptionist” who entered the date into her computer. So obvious she knew I had a lump and my personal business. Then I was called. You guessed it, another female. I was told again to undress from the waste down, lay on the table, legs closed with a rolled towel under my scrotum and cover. She must have been under 30 years old. She sits next to me. Pulls up the towel FULLY exposing me, then puts Jelly in the area, which was too hot by the way. Then she takes 10 to 15 minutes with the hand held device prodding and taking measurements. Since then, I have undergone 4 ultrasounds, by different woman. NEVER EVER offered a male tech. Highly intimidating. I am reading about how more and more woman are coming into the medical field. The field needs to change fast in being sensitive to men in the exam room. YES _ MANY men have modesty and WANT to be respected and given choice. NOT expected to suck it up. That ideal is failing men as patients. Then people wonder why so many men DIE of prostate issues and such. If you want to save more lives, then give more men the dignity and respect they deserve. Don’t be so sure they feel comfortable with a woman in the exam room. Start giving them a choice of gender for doctor AND chaperone.

    By the way, after the initial visit I had with the NPA and testicle issue, I saw my primary ( male ) doctor about the issue a month later, and he found the lump in 30 seconds. Knew exactly how to find it, and didn’t hurt the area, and leave me sore afterwards. He knew my area from having the same parts himself. He wasn’t as insensitive and aggressive as the NP was.

    1. The field needs to change fast in being sensitive to men in the exam room.

      Don’t hold your breath: complain and they’ll just humiliate you and carry on as before.

      By the way, after the initial visit I had with the NPA and testicle issue, I saw my primary ( male ) doctor about the issue a month later, and he found the lump in 30 seconds. Knew exactly how to find it, and didn’t hurt the area, and leave me sore afterwards. He knew my area from having the same parts himself. He wasn’t as insensitive and aggressive as the NP was.

      Exactly. Anything to do with men’s issues is best dealt with by another man.

    2. Hi Jim:

      As far as the ultrasound goes, if you ever need another one and a male sonographer is unavailable or not on staff, call ahead and ask the facility for a male radiologist to run the test on you as some of them have ultrasound training.

      My brother needed one recently. He called his local imaging center and hospital & inquired as to who would be doing the testing. Both facilities only had young women as sonographers on staff so he told them that was unacceptable and didn’t schedule the test.

      Two days later, a radiologist from his local hospital called him asking what he needed as he understood why many men aren’t comfortable with the way the testing was done and he was qualified to do ultrasounds.

      Needless to say my brother (and his wife), were happy. The radiologist set everything up from that point and he got his needed test.

      Regards,
      John

  18. I was hospitalized 3 weeks ago in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. On the third evening, as the doctor was leaving the room, she said she would send someone in to help me in the shower. Minutes later a male nurse came in. I was hooked up to an IV and had just had a minor surgery. The curious thing is that he completely disrobed to shower me. We were two naked dudes, which didn’t bother me at all, but I’m sure a female nurse would not have done that. If he had not removed his clothing he would have been soaking wet, so it made sense that he not wear anything. Do male patients get males to assist them in this way, or how would it be different if a male were not available? What is the protocol in a case like this?

    1. I doubt you’d find that anywhere in the US., though it makes sense in the way you describe it. I wonder if hospitals in Mexico routinely provide male staff for male patient intimate procedures.

  19. Hello:

    First let me say, this is NOT in ANY way a rant against women.

    I have nothing but the utmost respect for them. They work just as hard as their male counterparts.

    I’m also NOT a healthcare worker.

    I’m just an American citizen understandably concerned with what is currently one of thee BIGGEST problems that must be solved within the American healthcare system.

    I believe in order to get “real” gender parity in the healthcare industry, the strangle hold currently held by women on the nursing & healthcare tech professions must be broken. Walls must come down and roadblocks removed so qualified men that are look for these types of positions, can get hired.

    Since their inception, the two vocations have grown over the years to become for the most part two “all girls clubs”.

    Part of the reason is for years, men never gave a second thought to ever becoming a nurse or health tech so these women went about building their careers and over time began wielding powerful influence over the healthcare industry. In their profession you played by their rules, their way, or you take the highway.

    Then times started changing.

    Men started asking themselves why can’t I become a nurse or med tech.

    They saw no reason why not so, they quietly went about getting the education and proficiencies needed to become a nurse or technician.

    In the beginning, when and/or if they got accepted by a school that in itself was a victory.

    When they went to classes in the beginning many were given a cold shoulder by their female counterparts which made it all that much harder for them to achieve their ultimate goal of being an RN or registered technician.

    They were told they don’t belong. It’s a woman’s profession. Yada, yada, yada. The profession achieved their objective in the beginning & discouraged many men from continuing their studies & many men dropped out.

    However, there were men despite all the negativity being thrown their way by women, ignored it & went on to get their degrees.

    There perseverance, showed other men they too could get a degree in nursing or med tech if they really wanted to so as a result, more men started going to nursing and med tech school.

    Now, the powers that be in the profession at first brushed off these males trying to get into their world as a fad that would die off.

    Over time however, more men started going to school & it started worrying the leadership. They had to “do something” to discourage these men.

    So what did they do, they moved quickly and closed off any position remotely related to any kind of female intimate exposure to all male nurses & techs.

    Curiously though at the same time they closed off positions to men, they didn’t even give a passing thought to doing the same & close off positions to females relating to any kind of male intimate exposure.

    They could have hired these men to take care of male patients if they requested a male caregiver.

    Instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to welcome these men into their profession with open arms, they looked for ways to further shut them out.

    So for a long time now fully qualified men and male patients have had a very difficult time dealing with the healthcare industry.

    People that don’t just hand over their dignity & respect to the healthcare profession are automatically belittled and shamed into giving it up or they are ignored by the system.

    A lot of the problem might have to do with the nursing & tech leadership wielding their influence where hiring practices are concerned. Many HR departments today are run by women.

    A doctor wants to make his or her male patients feel more comfortable so they decide to hire male nurses to work with male patients if the patient chooses.

    The older female nurses that have been with the practice for years get wind of this. They don’t want their apple cart upset so they wield their influence & convince the doctor that the male patients will be fine with their care. So the doctor without thinking of his patients needs cancels any hiring.

    Urology department head decides they need to increase staff to handle the increase in patients.

    The patients are mostly male.

    Current staff of all women tells the dept. head the men are fine with their care even though the patients were never asked so the department head listens & hires more women.

    These same scenarios plays out in doctor’s offices and hospitals across the country on a daily basis.

    Men are being discouraged left & right from applying for positions they are fully qualified for because they don’t want to break up their “all girls club”. Guys are running into “Females Only Need Apply”.

    So because of the unwillingness to yield, many male patients have decided better to forego needed medical care rather then put themselves through the humiliation the healthcare system will put them through.

    This man could be your dad, brother, husband, or your son. Are you really willing to take a chance with their life?

    To any and all doctors and hospital department heads out there. Why not JUST ASK your patient in say a survey.

    Do you prefer same gender care for any intimate type test or procedure?

    Simple question.

    In the beginning, it might be tough getting some men to respond because you’ve conditioned them so well over the years to put up, shut up, & take whatever you give but, I think you’ll find from those that respond, many want same gender care for intimate type tests and/or procedures.

    Why is it we don’t we see any clinics specifically for men’s healthcare needs opening up? Clinics run and staffed only by men for men.

    You see all women’s clinics going up everywhere.

    I was on the road & I saw a Shirtless Male Nurse on a billboard. The caption read “Who’s caring for your mom?” Next to the words was a young topless man wearing a stethoscope.

    Is this the way the industry views male nurses and their work?

    Had it been a female in just her bra with a stethoscope around her neck on that billboard, there would have been an uproar like nothing ever seen before.

    The system must be open to both sexes and run on an equal basis across the board.

    Stop using the crutch of the costs involved in hiring enough staff. People retire all the time and there are men looking for open positions. They don’t want to be glorified orderlies. They want a nursing/tech career.

    Start thinking about the NEEDS of the patient and what you can do as a healthcare professional to give them the best possible outcome from their visit. Believe me we’re tired of hearing “we’re all professionals & we’ve seen it all before”. Look at all your so-called “professionals” that have been caught for breaking patient rules.

    Best wishes to all,
    Raffie

    1. Raffie, this is why men need to speak up as patients, and also as community members. Too often the medical world hides behind the “nobody has ever brought up that issue before”.

      Something I am in the midst of is posing related questions as just an interested party in the community. I recently inquired of the local hospital about the extent to which 11th & 12th grade LNA students from the local tech school are involved with intimate patient care in their facility, and letting them know that I think it is inappropriate for 16 & 17 year old kids to be allowed such exposure (despite 16 year olds being able to get their LNA license in this State). I could tell that my questions gave them pause to think and that they’ve sharpened their protocols a bit..

      I then went to the tech school itself to inquire about whether they have any outreach to bring boys into the program so as to help address the problems caused by the gender imbalance that currently exists. They are going to change their promotional video as a result.

      I am now waiting on a response to a similar query to the BSN nursing program at the local college.

      Last summer after an ER visit I got a call from the hospital surveying my experience. I noted that I thought it was unprofessional for the doctor to come into the room with a female scribe in tow without ever introducing her or asking me if it was OK that she be there. I said that had there been intimate exposure involved it would have totally inappropriate. I could tell by the reaction that nobody had ever said this to her before, and after agreeing with me that I was right she said she would bring it up at that week’s staff meeting.

      It is only speaking up and being proactive that anything will ever change.

  20. Good Day:

    First let me say, this is NOT in ANY way a rant against women.

    I have nothing but the utmost respect for women. They work just as hard as men & deserve nothing but the best.

    I’m also NOT a healthcare worker.

    I’m just a concerned American who has dealt with the healthcare system as a patient and has seen what currently is one of the many problems that must be solved by the industry working together with the general public.

    I believe in order to get “real” gender parity in the healthcare industry, the strangle hold by women on the nursing & healthcare tech professions must be broken. Walls must come down and roadblocks removed so qualified men that are waiting can get hired.

    Since the inception of the two vocations, they grew over the years to become for the most part two “all girls clubs”.

    For years, men never gave a second thought to ever becoming a nurse or health tech so these women went about building their careers and over time began wielding powerful influence over the healthcare industry. In their profession it became their rules, their way, or you take the highway.

    Then times started changing.

    Men started asking themselves why can’t I become a nurse or med tech.

    They saw no reason why not so they went about getting the education and proficiencies needed to become a nurse or technician.

    When they got accepted by a school that in itself was a victory.

    When they went to classes in the beginning many were given a cold shoulder by their female counterparts which made it all that much harder for them to achieve their ultimate goal of being an RN or registered technician.

    They were told they don’t belong. It’s a woman’s profession. Yada, yada, yada. The profession achieved their objective in the beginning & discouraged many men from continuing their studies & many men dropped out.

    However, there were men despite all the negativity being thrown their way by their female counterparts and teachers, ignored it & went on to get their degrees.

    There perseverance, showed other men they too could get a degree in nursing or med tech if they really wanted to so as a result, more men started going to nursing med tech school.

    Now, the powers that be in the profession at first brushed off these males trying to get into their world as a fad that would die off.

    Over time however, more men started going to school & it started worrying the leadership. They had to “do something” to discourage these men.

    So what did they do, they moved quickly and closed off any position remotely related to any kind of female intimate exposure to all male nurses & techs.

    Curiously though at the same time they closed off positions to men, they didn’t do the same & close off positions to females relating to any kind of male intimate exposure.

    They could have hired these men to take care of male patients if they requested a male caregiver.

    Instead of taking advantage of the opportunity to welcome these men into their profession with open arms, they looked for ways to further shut them out.

    So for a long time now fully qualified men and male patients have had a very difficult time dealing with the healthcare industry.

    People that don’t just hand over their dignity & respect to the healthcare profession are automatically belittled and shamed into giving it up or they are ignored by the system.

    A lot of the problem might have to do with the nursing & tech leadership wielding their influence all over the industry where hiring practices are concerned. Many HR departments today are run by women.

    A doctor wants to make his or her male patients feel more comfortable so they decide to hire male nurses to work with male patients if the patient chooses.

    The older female nurses that have been with the practice for years get wind of this. They don’t want their apple cart upset so they wield their influence & convince the doctor that the male patients will be fine with their care. So the doctor without thinking of his patients needs cancels any hiring.

    Urology department head decides they need to increase staff to handle the increase in patients.

    The patients are mostly male.

    Current staff of all women tells the dept. head the men are fine with their care even though the patients were never asked so the department head listens & hires more women.

    These same scenarios plays out in doctor’s offices and hospitals across the country on a daily basis.

    Men are being discouraged left & right from applying for positions they are fully qualified for because they don’t want to break up their “all girls club”. Guys are running into “Females Only Need Apply”.

    So because of the unwillingness to yield, many male patients have decided better to forego needed medical care rather then put themselves through the humiliation the healthcare system will put them through.

    This man could be your dad, brother, husband, or your son. Are you really willing to take a chance with their life?

    To any and all doctors and hospital department heads out there. Why not JUST ASK your patient in say a survey.

    If you needed an intimate type test or procedure, would you prefer it done by and in the presence of only the same gender as you or would you prefer someone of the opposite gender take care of your needs?

    In the beginning, it might be tough getting some men to respond because you’ve conditioned them so well over the years to put up, shut up, & take whatever we give but, I think you’ll find from those that respond, many want same gender care for intimate type tests and/or procedures.

    Why don’t we see any clinics specifically for men’s healthcare needs opening up? Clinics run and staffed only by men for men.

    You see all women’s clinics going up everywhere.

    I was on the road & I saw a Shirtless Male Nurse on a billboard. The caption read “Who’s caring for your mom?” Next to the words was a young topless man wearing a stethoscope.

    Is this the way the industry views male nurses and their work?

    Had it been a female in just her bra with a stethoscope around her neck on that billboard, there would have been an uproar like nothing ever seen before.

    The system must be open to both sexes and run on an equal basis.

    Stop using the crutch of the costs involved in hiring enough staff. People retire all the time and there are men looking for open positions. They don’t want to be glorified orderlies. They want a nursing/tech career.

    Start thinking about the NEEDS of the patient and what it will take to give them the best possible outcome from their visit.

    Best wishes to all,
    Raffie

  21. Is there a doctor in the house who will agree with the above and try to get the medical profession moving in this direction? A little compassion and concern would go a long way. Please consider the anguish of being in this situation.

    1. Reginald:

      Rarely if ever will you find doctors and/or healthcare administrators willing to engage the public in meaningful conversations on this subject as it is one of the biggest taboos of the industry.

      For them to talk about it would be tantamount to them admitting they’ve been giving guys a raw deal.

      There are some though that will talk about it & they agree men are being short-changed by the system.

      The key for men everywhere is to speak up loud & clear against the system if you don’t like how you are treated.

      Only when enough men have spoken up, will this issue not be brushed under the rug anymore.

      Regards,
      Raffie

      1. I hear what you are saying and it has to change. More people need to speak up. Men should be given more repsect for their privacy.

        1. I couldn’t agree more. I am a bit older now, but I remember well having to undergo those very embarrassing sports physicals in school. We (boys) were herded into rooms, 10 at a time, and told to undress to our socks and underwear (in front of each other), then set up in a line where the doctor went down the row of each boy and had us drop our shorts while he inspected our genitals and we did the cough test, all the while the Female nurse went with him with a clip board, and viewed each one of our genitals as each boy pulled their pants down. Our School nurse was probably in her late 20s, early 30s. Very embarrassing. No privacy given or sensitivity to modesty!
          Now it has become evident that more school districts are hiring Female NPs to do the sports physicals. ( I believe to save money) and of course most school nurses are female. So now boys have to endure not one, but 2 females in the room. I hope sincerely that in the least, the genital test is done behind a screen? Without the school nurse in few view as well? I’m not certain. One other thing I will bring up is that Girls, in sports physicals, do not have to expose any private parts during the physical. For that reason, a male doctor (could) be hired to do both genders. A fantastic article on this subject worth reading is:
          http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2011/08/sports-physicals-includes-provisions-privacy.html which really sums up the embarrassment boys go through during these exams. I feel it is wrong for Female NPs to be hired to do such exams on young boys due to full genital exposure. The schools should be forced to hire male doctors for those physicals. (Many boys refuse to go out for sports in fear of the embarrassment!)

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