Doctors' attitudes toward women
I want to know is what med students are being told NOW about
how to handle female patients...about
hormones, about perimenopause, about hysterectomies, about libido
in females, about all the medical conditions.
I recently listened to a RealAudio version of a radio
show done by Dr. Vicki Hufnagel, the author of "No More Hysterectomies."
She related a tale of her instruction in medical school about handling
She said the psychiatrist who was teaching this subject
(this is 20 years ago) was a very hip-looking young guy, someone
she expected to be progressive and with it. There was no discussion
of male patients, but what her class was told by Mr. Hip was that
there are three kinds of female patients... the hysterical, the
neurotic, and the seductive ... and how to handle each.
That's it... that's how women are or were broken down into categories
... conspicuous by its absence is the category "normal"
or "well adjusted." So that should give all of us a very
clear window into the shaping of our doctors' attitudes toward and
reactions to us.
What I want to know is what med students are being told NOW about
how to handle female patients ... about hormones, about perimenopause,
about hysterectomies, about libido in females, about all female medical
If little has changed from 20 years ago, it will tell us just how
long we shall have to wait before we can expect to find a doctor
who doesn't think we're either hysterical or neurotic.
Do we have any journalists out there who think this an interesting
subject to investigate? Or any mothers or relatives of med school
students or young doctors who could ask these questions?
I am reminded of the two months of terrible hemorrhaging I experienced
years ago after getting a saline abortion from a highly respected
NY gyn. I had been calling the office to report my troubles, taking
care to remain calm while carefully describing the degree of my
problem (I'm talking to you while sitting on my toilet because I'm
bleeding so much) because I didn't want to be taken for an hysteric,
and I kept being told to wait until my next period. I eventually
wound up in the hospital with blood transfusions in both arms simultaneously
and a D&C (under the care of a new doctor). Afterwards the original
gyn allowed as how he had no sense of the severity of the problem
because I hadn't seemed terribly upset over the phone!
Noel Gilmore, Port St. Lucie, FL