Given that the home page for this website prominently mentions the well-known male tendency to avoid medical treatment, I was extremely surprised that my search on the terms "modesty" and "privacy" yielded no results. There's a growing awareness that one of the major reasons men stay away from health care providers is the fact that their needs for modesty and bodily privacy are seldom respected. There is no such thing as a male mammographer, but the vast majority of scrotal ultrasounds are performed by female technicians. It's unthinkable for a female patient to end up undressed in a room with a male doctor and a male assistant. But the reverse happens all the time: more and more female physicians and NP's are bringing in so-called "chaperones" when performing intimate examinations and procedures on their male patients, and those chaperones are almost always female. Usually, men in these situations say nothing about their feelings of embarrassment, exposure, anger, and/or humiliation -- but when they do, their responses are usually dismissed. Not always, but far more often than not: "You don't have anything we haven't seen before." "We don't have modesty here." "Do you have a problem with women?
Since my goal is to initiate some discussion of this topic here, I'll share an "ambush" experience of my own. I've posted about this on other blogs, so if you follow the subject already you may have seen this before.
I’d been seeing a female NP for 5-6 years so thought I had a good working relationship with her. Then I had my first “intimate” exam with her — regarding a mass I’d noticed on one of my testicles. After the initial discussion, she left while I undressed, lay down on the exam table, and covered myself with a drape as she instructed. But when she opened the door again, one of the intake nurses (also female) was right behind her. Without a word to me, they positioned themselves directly across from each other at my hips. Then the NP pulled the drape completely off me, and I was exposed to both women from waist to ankles. I was so shocked and embarrassed I literally couldn’t speak – the NP hadn’t said anything beforehand about bringing in a witness, never explained why it was necessary, and never asked my permission for it (which I certainly would not have given). Before this encounter, I had never even heard of “chaperones,” and had never been undressed in a doctor’s office for anyone but that doctor. The whole encounter left me feeling insulted, disrespected, and humiliated; I had trouble sleeping and focussing at my job, and ended up seeing a therapist for a few months.
As mentioned, I have discussed this encounter on other websites, so I'm not necessarily seeking feedback for myself. I would be interested in hearing about similar experiences from other men, and how you responded to them. The more visible this issue becomes, the more likely things are to change.