Does A Doctor’s Gender Really Matter?

Though not widely studied, it is seen that some people prefer for their doctors to be a certain gender.

This might not be a question that you’ve ever asked before, but it might be surprising to know that a doctor’s gender does seem to matter in a lot of cases. Up until half a century ago, a gender preference was not something that was available: almost all physicians were men and almost all nurses were women, and patients couldn’t choose who they wanted, but today, times are different. Though most doctors would like to believe that medicine is gender neutral, the reality is not always the same. Even though all doctors are trained to treat everyone, some people have a clear preference, and this depends on a lot of factors.

Obstetrics And Gynecology


One of the most prominent fields that shows a clear distinction in choice is in obstetrics and gynecology. It is seen that around 90 percent of the residents in training are women, and this brings an adequate number of women working in this field. Studies have shown that women prefer to be treated by other females when it comes to intimate care. Only about 10 to 15 percent showed a preference for male OB-GYN doctors. It has also been shown that the preference for female doctors has been rising steadily among younger women, with older women being accustomed to being cared for by male doctors.

The Other Side

Men on the other hand are thought to be more accepting of the other gender when it comes to intimate care. However, this might not really be the case. Around 90 percent of the doctors that practice urology are male, which means that men might not really need to choose their preferred doctor. There are relatively few women who are urologists, but there is not as much demand for female urologists as female OB-GYNS and not many men are asking for a female urologist. Even though routine male genital exams are not as intrusive when compared to women, around 30 to 50 percent of men still prefer male doctors to female doctors. This is especially true if the doctor is a younger female and the patient is an older male; older males do not feel like younger women cannot understand that problems that males face. Even in males, it is seen that adolescents prefer the same gender when it comes to intimate care, and older adult males having no preference.

Other factors that might impact gender preference are a history of sexual assault, religious beliefs and homophobia.

Ancillary Care

A lot of people ma have gender preferences for ancillary care, but these are not always acknowledged. A lot of people prefer the same gender doctor or nurse for treatment, but they might not be given the choice. Urinary catheterizations are routinely done by female nurses, and this might make a lot of men embarrassed or uncomfortable.  Most of the time, a choice isn’t actually offered to males, even though it’s the other way around when it comes to females: a male nurse tends to ask a woman if she would prefer a female to do the catheterization.

In another case, while most urologists are male doctors, the tests are female nurses and technicians. Some doctors do recognise that their male patients feel embarrassed because of the female nurses, but either let it slide, or cannot do anything about it because male nurses and technicians might just not be available. A test like a prostrate screening might by a team consisting of all females, but in something like a mammography lab, it would never be a team of all men. This means that a lot of men might feel too uncomfortable about being attended to by a female doctor, and can sometimes even avoid getting a test done altogether.


Even though modern medicine would like to be gender neutral, there are some clear distinctions between preferences among people. However, there aren’t enough statistics to be able to scientifically generalize a finding, so more research is needed to obtain accurate results.