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How relevant is obstetrician and gynaecologist gender to women?


Picture this:

You’re perched uncomfortably on a teal-coloured vinyl chair, slightly reclined. Your skin makes a squeaking sound as you shift your weight, thighs sticking to the shiny material. Your legs are elevated to an unnatural height in front of you, ankles locked into their metal stirrups. Your cotton medical gown flutters lightly as the door swings open. The gynaecologist breezes into the room. You look up, and gasp.

It’s a MAN.

And he’s about to take a look at your hoo-haa. 

What do you reckon? Does it matter if your gynaecologist or obstetrician is a male or female? Or do you not give it much thought at all?

We wanted to know how women feel about this, so we took it to the Mumli community and asked:

Was gender a factor when deciding on your obstetrician or gynaecologist?

Interestingly, it was about half-half! 49 per cent of you said YES, and 51 per cent said NO. There was some passionate discussion on the topic of male versus female gynaecologists and obstetricians. So we’re here to bring you the results.

If you’re in the process of choosing your maternity care team, here’s some helpful insight into if and why obstetrician-gynaecologist (OBGYN) gender matters to Australian women.

The case for male OBGYNs

You’re slightly more likely to get a male gynaecologist or obstetrician in Australia, because there are just more male doctors in general. While OBGYN is one of the areas most saturated with females in the medical field, there’s still just under 50 per cent representation (the latest data I could find is from 2018 and says that 45 per cent of OBGYNs are women).

So what are the pros and cons of a male versus a female obstetrician-gynaecologist? 

Here’s what women said

Males can be sympathetic

I have always had a more sympathetic experience with male doctors over female.”

Males can put your male partner at ease 

“My male OBGYN helped hubby feel comfortable asking questions around pregnancy.”

Males can be highly qualified and proficient 

“I went 100 per cent on reputation. Originally I thought I would prefer a female, but I went male.”

“I have had three male specialist doctors and all of them have been incredible to work with.”

Males can be, well, HOT

“My OB was low key hot, hahahah not relevant but just wanted to share.” (And we’re glad you did, lady.)

BUT ALSO…

Males can be clueless

“A male OB once told me that having a baby at 21 would solve my endometriosis pain. Incorrect.”

“I detest the idea of a man being condescending to me about my body and having to take it.”

Males might not suit you if you have past trauma

“I chose a female because I have a history of sexual assault.”

Males just might not ‘get it’

“There was minimal sympathy about stitches pain postpartum with the male OBGYN.”

I don’t think a man, even being a doctor, understands what it is being a woman and our bodies.”

A few of the best male obstetricians in Sydney

If you’re keen to hunt down a great male gynaecologist or obstetrician in Sydney, here are a few of the top-rated fellas, according to Google:

The case for female OBGYNs

For some, it’s just a vibe thing. But it’s interesting to note the cultural differences that may dictate a preference of female OBGYN, too. For example, the US has more female obstetrician-gynaecologists than male, which could be put down to societal issues surrounding abortion laws and forced pregnancy instated by (surprise surprise) largely male governments. 

A study of pregnant women in Saudi Arabia showed a strong preference for female OBGYNs, with nearly three-quarters of women being ‘too embarrassed’ to see a male.

In Australia, we’re seeing an uptake in female OBGYN fellows, largely due to the workforce continuing to open to more women, especially in medical fields. Woo hoo! But do Aussie women prefer female obstetricians and gynaecologists?

Here’s what women said

Other women ‘get it’

“I felt like females could empathise more.”

They’re more relatable, with the same body parts, or having a baby themselves, pregnancy etc.”

I believe only a woman can fully understand the physical and mental process of birth.”

Females can make your feel more comfortable

I feel more comfortable with a woman.”

“I felt more comfortable discussing everything with a female.”

Women understand the unique fertility struggles we face

“I was going through IVF and thought a woman would be understanding.”

Females may be more understanding

“I think female doctors are more compassionate.”

There weren’t many negatives mentioned about female obstetricians, but these threads on Quora and Reddit note that some women feel they’re less gentle than males.

A few of the best female obstetricians in Sydney

If you’re looking specifically for a female obstetrician-gynaecologist in Sydney, here are some of the most highly rated:

A final word on male or female obstetrician-gynaecologists

Most of you agree that gender really doesn’t matter as long as you’re getting quality care. 

Three births, one male OB, one female OB and one female midwife. Three genuinely different people for three similar births. I don’t think gender played into this at all. All had different strengths and weaknesses.”

“I didn’t care what gender they were as long as they made me feel comfortable and safe.”

And in the end, we have to agree. A great OBGYN will ensure your pregnancy is well managed, your baby arrives earthside safe and sound, and that you feel supported throughout the process.

While you’re totally entitled to your preference, remember that whether they’re male or female, all obstetricians and gynaecologists in Australia have to go through the same thorough training. But in any case, you’re always encouraged to advocate for yourself. If something feels off and you’re not vibing with your maternity care provider, don’t be afraid to ask for another doctor, or call on your birthing support person to speak for you. This is YOUR birth. You do you.



Read next: Midwife-led care or medical-led care: how to decide



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