A trip to a gynaec in your adult life, especially if you’re an unmarried woman leading a sexually active life, is an unpleasant business in India. As if there isn’t enough scrutiny on our plates, regarding our sex life, family planning etc. from our near ones, we must endure it from our doctors as well. Often women choose to lie about their marital status and sexual health in fact, just so that they can escape the embarrassment of being judged by their gynaecs. But your doctor is the last person you should have to lie to. You shouldn’t feel compelled to hide information from them, and yet that is the choice women have, apart from developing a thick skin and nerves of steel, while your doctor ponders over the reasons for your missed periods, yeast infection and asks questions that have nothing to do with medical science.
- A visit to a gynaecologist if you are a single woman, leading an active sex life is a nightmare in India.
- They bombard their patients with invasive questions, and hold no bars in judging their lifestyle.
- Sometimes women choose to lie to their doctors just to escape the embarrassment.
- Why can’t gynaecs keep their personal stance on morality etc. at bay, while treating their patients?
But your doctor is the last person you should have to lie to. You shouldn’t feel compelled to hide information from them, and yet that is the choice women have, apart from developing a thick skin and nerves of steel.
Earlier this year, comedian Mallika Dua shared a series of stories on social media which shed light on how gynaec visits were a struggle for single women marked with intrusive and absolutely unnecessary questions regarding their sex lives. She even asked her followers to sign a petitions asking for adoption of a non-judgemental code of conduct for gynaecs at a leading hospital chain, reported Times of India. Similarly, in March, Huffington Post published an article on how hospitals and doctors deny unmarried women trans-vaginal sonogram, assuming that they are virgins. Women are denied the procedure since it could affect their ‘virginal’ status and lead to discord when they get married. So the obsession with virginal pious brides in our country has long escaped from our bedrooms to hospitals and clinics.
Even on Twitter, time and again, women reveal how their gynaec makes them miserable for being unmarried, child-free or leading an active sex life while being single. They aren’t just judged; they are openly shamed and reprimanded because clearly we as a society still judge single women’s character on basis of the status of their hymen. And to think that most gynaecs in our country are women themselves, yet a judgemental and dismissive attitude towards their own kinds comes easily to them.
I ve neglected health issues in fear of these judgemental conversations. The lecture and then they make you feel uncomfortable 🤦🤦 I ve never had a consistent gynaec till now
— Chittra M (@masalaboxtravel) June 26, 2019
Join the tribe…I have stormed out of atleast half-a-dozen clinics in the last decade. Who would have thunked it would be so hard to find a professional who is not a Karol Bagh aunty 🙈
— YellowGlassDragon (@karishmau) March 5, 2019
A friend was told by her gynaec to get married to reduce her persistent acne problems 🙄
— Susan Joseph 💙 #Wearyourmasks 😷 (@susanj13) August 14, 2019
Like every other profession in our country, these beliefs penetrate into professional life for a some gynaecs, not all mind you, thus often doctors end up asking invasive questions, passing judgment on your character and even offering solutions like ‘get married or ‘have a baby’ etc.
But then, aren’t these doctors a product of this very society? It is almost natural for them to adopt our society’s code of morality, because that is how every child in our country is brought up. They grow up identifying a certain kind of lifestyle as ‘bad’ or ‘immoral’ and the reason behind perhaps all your woes. Like every other profession in our country, these beliefs penetrate into professional life for a some gynaecs, not all mind you, thus often doctors end up asking invasive questions, passing judgment on your character and even offering solutions like ‘get married’ or ‘have a baby’ etc. And mind you, even married women in India have to deal with unwanted interrogation. ‘When are you planning a baby?’ or ‘When are you planning your second baby?’ are questions which make every appointment seem like a visit to your senile grandma.
However, the medical fraternity in this country needs to keep its personal opinion on how women should lead their lives at bay. Moral policing is not a part of their job profiles. Besides, if women need advice like this, am sure it is easily available to them in their neighbourhood. Gynaecs must realise that the discomfort they cause to their patients does nothing more than to discourage them from getting a check-up, which could be crucial for their health. Surely they don’t want the blame of discouraging patients from being healthy on their heads.
PC: Hush Naidoo/ Unsplash
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.