From the look of the trailer, the movie, set to release on Friday, October 14, not only seems fun-filled and hilarious, but it is quite likely to build interest among audiences and may even drive a discussion around how male gynecologists in India face challenges in making their mark in the field of OB/GYN.
Doctor G centers around Dr Uday Gupta, an aspiring gynecologist, who ends up being the only male doctor in a class full of women. The trailer depicts how the protagonist struggles to get comfortable with the idea of being a gynecologist and constantly tries to lose his ‘male touch’ to become one.
Now whether or not Dr Gupta (played by Ayushmann Khurrana) successfully overcomes his inhibitions is yet to be seen. However, the trailer itself has sparked some interesting discussions and raised some very intriguing questions around why, in a world where male doctors thrive in medical lines, is it that there are so few in the field of gynecology? and among those few, why is there a hesitancy and a sense of uncomfortability to speak about it? While the answers may seem obvious, we at ETimes Lifestyle took the initiative to speak to male gynecologists and understand their viewpoint and mind you! It wasn’t easy…
The journey to becoming a male gynecologist
Unlike many doctors, Dr. Devang Patel, Sr. Consultant, Marengo CIMS Hospital, Ahmedabad, always aspired to become a gynecologist. He had seen one of his relatives become one and was awed by the joy a gynecologist gives to the family at the birth of a baby.
Apart from that, he says it was the intricacies of the profession itself that interested him greatly.
He says, “When I took this subject I enjoyed it even more because in this field, you can be a physician, you can give medicines, you can do a sonography, you can do a laparoscopic surgery, you can deliver the baby and give a family joy too. Unlike orthopedic or some other branch of surgery, which only focuses on surgical procedures, it’s a lot of things.”
On the contrary, Dr. Bijoy Nayak, Head and Consultant – Minimal Access & Robotic Gynaecological Surgeries, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, HCMCT Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka , was always interested in General Surgery and his inclination was never towards gynecology. However, it was during his first internship, where he got the chance to work under one of the top gynecologists from Odisha, that he decided to take on the field.
“Watching him work inspired me so much that I developed an interest in this practice. From there onwards, I decided to do my specialization in this subject,” he says.
“A doctor is a doctor, whether a male or a female. There cannot be a gender-bias,” says Dr Patel.
However, he does not shy away from speaking about the kind of challenges he has faced during his practice.
Referring to the film ‘Doctor G’, Dr. Patel amusingly said, “One of my friends sent me the trailer of the movie and after watching it, I could relate to it much more. It portrays what we underwent in the initial stages of our practice or when we took the OB-GYN.”
He adds saying, “I think it is a prejudice, which many of the females, not all, but some of the females have. It is that they should not go to a male gynae. But what we have seen after the first interaction and conversation is that they feel very comfortable. What they require is respect and someone who listens to them and gives them proper treatment.”
Similarly, Dr. Nayak says, “I am quite comfortable with being a male gynecologist and my entire department at that time was one of the best departments in the college. There is always hesitation among patients when they first visit a male gynecologist due to the stigma attached to this particular field. However, once they do visit, they become quite comfortable and most of them start preferring a male gynecologist only. I still have patients who visit me regularly. So, it’s all about the perspective that society has built.”
Percentage of male gynecologist lower in Northern and Southern India
Interestingly, both doctors highlight how the disparity between male and female gynecologists is much higher in Northern and some parts of Southern India.
“Prevalence of such challenges is among North Indian places, usually Bihar and some parts of South India also. But places like Gujarat, Maharashtra that includes Mumbai, Kerala, Orissa, there the percentage of male gynecologists are considerably higher. The practice of gynecology is much better in these states,” says Dr. Nayak.
Being from Gujarat, Dr Patel shares, “Over here there are many male gynecologists, which is not so in the North or in South.”
However, he mentions that he did his specialization in high risk pregnancy and fetal medicine from Hyderabad. revisiting an instance from his days of practice, he shares: “When I was with my fetal medicine teacher, just an observer, a patient said ‘No I don’t want a male doctor.’ At that time, my teacher was very firm and said that he is a doctor and he is just allowed to be here because he is not even touching or seeing you, so this kind of notion should not be there. Years later, I helped the same lady deliver her baby. Because at the end of the day, it is the rapport that you build with your patients and when you meet again and again, you realise that being a good doctor is all that matters.”
‘It is all about respecting choices’
Depending on past experiences, their own frame of mind and visualization of how a man sits in front of a woman, patients tend to generalize, explains Dr Patel.
To break this pattern or stereotype, he says “respect, care and compassion” are the most important things.
“If you respect their choices, do not overrule what they say and work towards respectful maternity care, they will be more comfortable,” he says.
The doctor further adds, “During delivery, what we have seen is that most of the ladies are unaware of their choices, their rights during the labour and delivery. For a long time, there has been a tradition where they have been told what to do. But now we have been respecting their choices, giving them agency over their own body, letting them decide what they want, who they want in the labour room, etc. As long as it is not medically incorrect, we don’t force it. And if we go in this way, confidence is going to increase and that is how stereotypes will be broken.”