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Readers React: The shift in OB-GYN demographics does not mean male doctors are being oppressed

Dr. Sarah Azad stands outside the independent OB-GYN practice she runs in Mountain View, Calif., in 2017.
(Jenny Gold / Kaiser Health News)

To the editor: Medicine has made progress in increasing gender parity, but the fact remains that there continues to be nearly double the number of male physicians as there are female physicians across the country. (“Male doctors are disappearing from gynecology. Not everybody is thrilled about it,” March 7)

My colleague and friend, Dr. Barbara Levy, and I agree: We should celebrate that the obstetrics and gynecology field creates opportunity for women to lead and excel in ways medicine has traditionally excluded them. We are proud to be the most diverse specialty in medicine: In 2016, OB-GYN was reported to have the highest proportion of underrepresented minorities, especially African Americans and Hispanics. Representation in the exam room matters.

Moreover, we should not equate a shift in demographics with oppression or discrimination. The field continues to welcome and encourage the development of all medical students and residents across the gender spectrum.

Lisa Hollier, MD, Houston

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The writer is the incoming president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

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To the editor: Women have been bullied by patriarchal norms for centuries. Now, finally, this is changing, as women strive to be equal partners in all aspects of society.

Female doctors, especially in OB-GYN, are responding to real female needs for doctors who can relate to our shared biological and emotional needs. Female patients find an emotional connection to female practitioners, to whom they can comfortably disclose extremely personal issues that are essential to quality care.

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As a woman who was subject to child sexual abuse for years, I know there are many more victims and survivors whose stories we do not know. I, like dozens of other women, did not speak publicly of this unspeakable crime until now, largely because women are not believed or understood by those we reported it to.

Time’s up. We need female OB-GYNS. I implore male physicians to understand: We have been traumatized, not by you, but by your gender. Please don’t take this personally. It’s not about you, it’s about me.

Bernadette Lucas, RN, Hollywood

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To the editor: I agree that a diverse physician workforce improves patient care, and it is unfortunate that men are becoming less represented in OB-GYN. In my OB-GYN residency program, some of the providers I admire most are male.

To be frank, however, we have much bigger workforce problems in our specialty. About half of all U.S. counties do not have an OB-GYN physician. In the past decade or so there has been a trend for us to relocate to more urban and affluent places. Even metropolitan areas supersaturated with physicians struggle to provide care to their most vulnerable women.

I don’t think it matters whether male or female physicians work to solve these problems — but we need to address them if we want to improve women’s health.

Kristin Parrinella, MD, Playa del Rey

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