Avatar universal

older vs younger, male vs female gynegologist

I am a 41 and have never been to a gynecologist so I am rather nervous about a upcoming initial visit I have to set up very soon.

I mean no disrespect by asking this question but it is a concern to me.  Do the majority of older gynecologists (age 57) stay up to  date on the latest findings or techniques/surgeries in their field or will they be more likely to turn to a hysterectomy as they did in the past more than was necessary(from what I have read)?  I also tend to think that being a woman herself, a female gynecologist would be less likely to perform a hysterectomy if possible than a male gynecologist , though I could be completely wrong about that.  I do think that older doctors have a life's worth of experience to base their opinions of medical conditions on which is a very good thing, I just fear they may be more set in their ways.  In the end I imagine it varies from doctor to doctor

Initially I agreed to see the the only local gynecologist/obstetrician who is a 57 year old male doctor, but now I wish I knew how I could  ask if he is well respected in the local medical community and if many of my doctor's patients are referred to him without hesitation.  Is it wrong or rude to want to call my doctor's office and ask such a question even after I already agreed to see this doctor?  I suppose if my doctor referred me to him he is thought of well enough.

I'll give a bit of my history.

I am 41 and post menopausal, my periods started changing when I was around 34.  I am 330 lb ( worked myself down from 500 lb, have a ways to go yet).  Being incredibly humiliated and excruciatingly embarrassed about my weight I have never been sexually active or gone in to see a gynecologist before because I did not want to have to put a doctor through dealing with someone like me.  And yes, I am heartbroken that I can not have a child at this point, but I have to live with the consequences of the life choices I didn't change soon enough.

Recent lab work showed a high estrogen level for being post menopausal, though fat does boost estrogen levels -  Estradiol level 108, Follicle Stimulating Hormone 22.6 - so my doctor had me go in  for a pelvic and transvaginal ultrasound to check the thickness of the vaginal wall to be  on safe side.  The thickness was normal, but it was found that I have bilateral ovarian cysts with one being slightly abnormal.  So now I need to go in to see a gynecologist.  

I always thought I would find a female gynecologist when the time came I had to see one because I would be more comfortable ( I would have to travel a  distance from home to go to one, but I wouldn't mind that to much).  Though I was acutely embarrassed, I was fine with the younger male technician who did the transvaginal ultrasound.   I come to this with a straightforward attitude and no fear of men as far as that goes, just embarasment.  

I would appreciate it if I could get some advice or comments that might put my mind at ease and make this a bit more comfortable for me.  Sorry I went on so long, I guess it was a way to deal with my nervousness.
3 Responses
Avatar universal
Well, first, it sounds like you haven't gone through menopause - but are dealing with effects of the ovarian cysts and weight.  Have you been told by your doctor that you need a hysterectomy?  Unless there are extreme problems with the cysts, I can't see any reasonable gynecologist recommending a hysterectomy - of any age or gender.

I have found that younger female gynecologists tend to be a little more open towards women having their own opinions about their bodies.  It's not a hard, fast rule, though!  At least be open to finding a new gynecologist if you end up feeling uncomfortable with the one you are scheduled to see.  Oh, and it would not be rude to ask the doctor's office for referrals.  If you don't want to ask them, you can always check online for reviews, etc.

Congratulations on your weight loss!  Don't be too sure about being unable to have children.  Women much older than you have done it - and I honestly believe, from what you've said, that you are not postmenopausal.  Fortunately, you will be able to find out for sure from the gynecologist.

And a note: if, at any point, they are rude about your weight, they make you feel shamed about your weight, etc. - walk out.  There are plenty of doctors who know how to be respectful and you don't need to take any rudeness or lack of professional tact from anyone.  Don't let them bully you into a million tests because they assume everything must be wrong strictly based on your weight.  My mother has been through so much of this over the years!  I wish you the best of luck!!!!
Avatar universal
I don't think age or gender matters.  It's reputation and experience.  Another thing we don't know is how well they performed in med school.  Did they graduate at the top of their class or did they just get by?  My gynecologist/oncologist was an older male doctor (in his 50s?) with an outstanding reputation.  Even when they were prepping me for surgery, the nurses had to throw in their high opinion of him (even though I didn't ask).  It was very reassuring. And he felt a hysterectomy was too extreme of a measure when my only problem was with a large cyst (but he did strongly recommend removal of ovaries for me since I was post-menopausal).  What is also important is how much continuing education do they get for themselves.  I was not a good candidate for the Da Vinci robotic surgery, but my surgeon was highly trained and experienced in it.  And I am sure it did not exist yet when he graduated.

My regular gynecologist is a woman, probably in her 40s.  She referred me to the male gynecologist/oncologist (because they have the best surgical techniques for removing cysts), and he's the same doctor she sent her own mother to see.  Basically I told her what hospital I preferred and asked which doctors were the best that were affiliated with that hospital.  She immediately recommended him.  So he is a "doctor's doctor", the doctor that a doctor would go see if they were in the same situation.  Any hospital with a website probably lists their specialists/doctors by name.  That is one idea where to start looking.  If you have health insurance that lists doctors and hospitals that are in-network (which saves on your out of pocket expenses), ideally you want a doctor on that list.
Avatar universal
Thank you so much for your comments.  I have had such a hard  weekend thinking of all of this and dreading the worst outcome.  

In recent years I have been wondering if extreme stress could have suppressed my normal menstrual cycles since I had other stress related medical conditions hit me at approximately the same time such as psoriasis, stomach ulcers and arthritis.  I have never had extensive lab work done on my hormone levels, just what I mentioned above.  I did experience about a year of hot flashes and night sweats which is an indicator of menopause, so it would be a complete shock to me if the gynecologist told me I was not post menopausal.  

I have not been told I need a hysterectomy  as I have not see the gynecologist yet.  As far as dealing with the symptoms of the cysts, it isn't anything I can't handle and would rather stay away from surgery if at all possible.  What I have been doing is trying to educate myself from information online which is possibly not the best thing at this point without more solid information abut the cysts.   I have been dealing with about ten days of spotting with a two day break and then I am on day five of what I would actually consider moderate menstrual bleeding  which would be the firs time in over two-three years unless the bleeding is being is caused from a problem, I just don't know what to think about it.  Perhaps with the stress I am under about this and other issues, my body is having physical reaction.

Thank you so much for your positive attitude about me possibly being able to have children still.  I have dealt with the heartbreak of this for many years now since  I have been assuming that I was past that possibility, but perhaps I have a reason to hope that isn't the case.  I won't let myself go there mentally until I hear what the gynecologist has to say and hopefully he will do thorough testing.  Part of me expects ridicule from a doctor for even wanting a child, I imagine they would think if I did I would have dealt with my weight problem.

I have had a lifetime  of staying away from doctors because of a devastating experience with one when I was 14.  I was going in to have a  leg cast removed only to have this large male doctor tell me that it was grotesque that a girl my age be as fat as I was ( about 190 pounds).  It's one thing to be ridiculed by other kids, but when a adult doctor slams me, and being ultra sensitive teenager it's a scar for life and I assume I will be harassed by every doctor I go to.  I am getting better about not assuming that as much as I grow older and now have a very good doctor who is completely supportive towards me.

I appreciate your input about male or female doctors and their age.  I will do some more digging online for more information.  I do think this gynecologist is affiliated with a Seattle hospital so that made me feel better.  I may still call my doctor's office and delicately ask a couple of question to ease my concerns.

Thank you again for your support and input, it has been greatly appreciated.
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