Can’t touch this


Do you care what sex your doctor is? Or does it depend on the specialty? Personally, I refuse to see a male gynecologist. There is a part of me that feels that male gynos are just perverts in disguise. Men who want to spend all day looking at (and touching) women’s bodacious breeding equipment and get paid for it. Imagine them with their wives at home – intimacy must be so clinical…..shudder. Plus, as a woman, I feel a female gynecologist can understand my concerns better, seeing as she posesses a matching set of internal plumbing and can empathise with my concerns. With a male gyno I would be wondering if he is comparing my body with that of his wife, previous patient, or the playboy centerfold. (of course my whole hypothesis goes out the window if either party is gay, so for the sake of argument, this article only refers to straight people.)


I haven’t really thought through the other side – if you are a man, and have a female proctologist – I mean, are you guys really comfortable with that?  (I have this MadTV clip playing in my head now – Marvin Tikvah and Shelley the doctor “come on Shelley”)


I don’t much agree with segregating sexes in most things in life, but when it comes to being naked in front of another human being to whom you are NOT married but has to give you a complete physical, well I think both parties need to be of the same sex. Just the idea of a doctor lusting after me or any other patient is enough to give me the willies.


My ob/gyn is the best, she totally is. She held my hand through all my pregnancies and delivered #3 and #4, leaving an office full of other expectant moms to do so. #1 and #2 were delivered by male docs. Maybe it was just these two male docs that spoiled it for the rest, but oh my gosh was it an awful experience. The first, correctly deducing that I am British born and bred (hey did the accent give it away??) was making jokes about having tea and cucumber sandwiches, and flirting with the nurses when he should have been getting the baby out of me because it was tearing me in freaking two. The other was instructing a group of med students, and treated my birth canal as if it was common property – um hello, don’t I have a say in who gets to cross my thoroughfare? He also told me that I couldn’t possibly be in as much pain as I was. Let him pass a watermelon out his yingyang and then he can talk about pain.


And of course, there is the negiah issue. Yeppers. Is a doc of the opposite sex halachically allowed to touch you? Well, negiah, from what I am given to understand, is forbidden only if it is done b’derech chiba – in an affectionate manner. A prostate exam or a PAP test is hardly an act of love (although there are those people who like that kind of thing……ok lets not go there), but can there be anything more intimate than those kinds of examinations? How does a frum doctor manage it? What if the patient is a really gorgeous specimen and the doc has a slight crush? Or if the patient has a secret crush on the doc? (at one point my GP was a hunk, and every time I went to see him I would forget why I was there. I even referred to him among friends as Dr YummyBuns) Even on a less private level – a dentist has to touch you, right? Do super-religious folk only allow a same sex dentist to treat them, and if so – how many ultra orthodox lady dentists do you know?


I am a tactile person, and I feel touch in more than just a sensory manner. Maybe that makes me hypersensitive to this issue. If you are in the medical profession, or indeed any profession which involves physical contact, how do you deal with the issues I have raised? And if you are a patient, what are your views on the subject?

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  1. Gavi says:

    Actually, negiah is forbidden even if not in an affectionate manner… The “heteir” for a health-care provider to touch a patient of the opposite sex is, instead, that they are doing so in a professional context. As a former lifeguard and hopeful hatzalah-nik (have first responder background, need the car and $5000 kit), I can tell you that it is true – treating a patient becomes the sole focus.

    Personally, the gender of a physician doesn’t matter to me. My GP is female, my orthopaedic surgeon male, my dermatologist female (and my dermatologist is a chassidish lady, husband a big talmid chacham and a neurologist – obviously doesn’t disturb them either!!).

  2. CommonSenseJew says:

    I would like to say that I just radomly came across your blog and it is great. You and I have similar personalities, and my home is in what I would call a state of “silent divorce”. It is pretty sad. I used to feel weird around doctors until I realised that they look at all kinds of people, many nastier in appearance than me, and they definitely are not thinking about my body parts when they leave. Think about it, your obgyn looks at countless feminine bits daily. The chances of him thinking about yours in particular are slim. As far as dating (for marriage) goes, I also have qualms (I am in my 20′s). On the one hand marriage is fulfilling and can be great, on the other my parents have a very bad marriage and have just realised they need help after around 20 years of cold war. This has had put a damper on my wedding plans. I think that you can find a great guy who will respect you and your children; I personally would look for a healthy, succesful guy who has no need to impose his will on you. Here is a great blog on finding a great guy (I am trying to better my behavior towards women).She has a bunch of sites dealing with different issues.

  3. Liz says:

    I’ve only had male ob/gyns. I have nothing against female doctors, but all my doctors have been recommended by friends and so far I have been very happy with them.

    I don’t think doctors really get turned on by most patients’ bodies. Think of how many they see every day, every week, etc. In fact, I’ll bet most of them are turned OFF if anything. It’s like the episode of “Friends” when the ob/gyn is describing his profession to waitress Rachel and says: “Do you ever feel like…if I have to look at one more cup of coffee…..?”

    What if your female doctor was a lesbian?

    No offense, but I think you’re right, you ARE hypersensitive to this issue. Personally I’d rather have the best doctor I could find, and it wouldn’t matter whether that person was a man or a woman, and most (all?) of the people I know feel the same way. I don’t think women are better gynos because they’ve “felt our pain.” If I broke my arm, would I only want a doctor who’d suffered a broken arm treat me?

  4. elie says:

    See, I used to think that way… And then I realized that the females, maybe because they are so familiar with the girly bits, were a lot rougher with it all. The men have been sensitive. I don’t know. I’m sure it’s not as clear cut as that and probably, it all depends on their personalities at the end of the day.

  5. Lisa says:

    I have a male gyno and have a crush on him:). He is very good looking although he is about 10 years older than myself. I was nervous at first but he made me feel completely at ease. He is very professional and I get no perverse feelings from him.

  6. therapydoc says:

    I’d say, at the risk of being cast into cherem, not for the first time, that this is a good thing, and people in general shouldn’t get too weirded out when they happen upon other people smooching. More people could smooch, should smooch. And I realize that a website is a terrible place for it, wouldn’t suggest this become the rule, but if a young woman sees two people who are going to be married kissing, she should think, “Hmmm. Must be hard to resist that. I sure hope I do a better job.” Because it is difficult for healthy people, is the bottom line, to be shomer. Worth it? FOR SURE.

  7. Z! says:

    I have no issue with a doctor of either sex. As an artist who has drawn the naked human form many times, and am desensitized to it, so to do the Dr’s become. You are a patient, another client, not really a person. Merely a body.
    This is not a bad thing. This helps you both to do your job; His or hers being the doctor, you being the patient.
    Way back when it was rare to find women doctors, midwifes yes, but not medical doctors, what were the women’s choices? The business of birthing was taken away from the midwife and it became medical. But, men have often been involved with birthing babies.
    I think it’s wonderful we do have the choice to see a female, but I would be comfortable either way.

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