Do Men Understand What Women’s Health Care Involves?

Filed in Delaware by on February 4, 2012

Take a look at this comment by Occam from my post Komen’s Betrayal:

Just throwing this one out there – planned parenthood does not provide mammograms and Komen’s donations have gone up 100% in the last two days. By rerouting that money to organizations who actually do provide mammograms and by raising a boat-load of money didn’t Komen just advance the goal of fighting breast cancer a fair bit?

Given this comment, Occam’s answer to Do men understand what Women’s Health Care Involves would be a resounding “No.”

Perhaps we should start a “Take your partner to the gynecologist” day?  Because, given Occam’s comment, there are obviously a lot of guys who have no idea what goes on inside the gynecologist’s office.

Let’s start with his point that “Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms” and that by “rerouting that money to organizations who actually do provide mammograms” […] “didn’t Komen just advance the goal of fighting breast cancer a fair bit?”

I answered him in the thread:

Not all Planned Parenthood have mammogram equipment in house – hence referrals. You do realize when women go to their private ob/gyns that most are “referred” to another facility for their test [mammogram] since most ob/gyns don’t have mammogram equipment in their office?

Do you also realize that for most women (especially women under the age of 40 since most insurance programs won’t cover mammograms until a certain age) the in-office breast exam can trigger a referral for a mammogram… because that in-office breast exam caused concern?  [concern=lump or some other abnormality found]

(Comment edited for clarity)

But here’s the disconnect… Would anyone expect an oncologist to provide chemo and radiation in their office?  Would anyone expect a neurologist to have an MRI machine on site?  Of course not.  So why do some people view a referral for a mammogram differently?  I don’t receive mammograms at my ob/gyn’s office.  I receive a referral.

Most men’s only experience with ob/gyns comes when their partner is expecting a child, or when their partner has a medical problem and needs the emotional support the men in their lives desperately want to give.  All other times what goes on inside the examination room remains a mystery, which is partly women’s fault since not of all us share our experiences.  We really need to start expanding our health discussions with the men in our lives to include more than “I have cramps.”

At this point I’m wondering how many men are still reading?

For those of you still hanging in there let me explain what happens (relax, not in great detail) during an average visit to the gynecologist.  I used Planned Parenthood when I was younger and didn’t have insurance.  The procedures were basically the same.

The first things that happen are the taking of a urine sample, stepping on a scale to monitor your weight, and checking your blood pressure.  During this time the nurse/doctor will ask about any changes in your health, your menstrual cycle, any aches, pains, etc.

Next you will be shown into an examination room, asked to get completely undressed and don a gown.  The doctor arrives and (in no particular order) the following things happen.

The doctor will conduct a breast exam, searching for lumps and abnormalities.  He/she will ask questions about your breasts.

The doctor will pull down the your lower eyelids and check your eyes before moving downward to check your neck.

Then the doctor will press down on your belly and ask if you feel any pain.  They will continue this procedure over your entire belly.

During all of these procedures the doctor is asking questions – any tingling or numbness in any part of your body, any unexplainable aches and pains, etc.

Take a minute and look at the above list.  Notice how we haven’t even reached the vagina yet?  Surprised?

When all this is done we finally move onto the internal exam.  (Immediately before the internal exam the doctor will visually examine you.  The purpose of this part of the exam is to make sure there are no sores, swelling, or any other problems with the external genitalia.)  Then, by hand, the doctor will check the size and position of the ovaries and uterus.

A speculum is then inserted to allow the doctor to visually examine the walls of the vagina and the cervix and to perform tests, such as a Pap smear.  A pap smear is accomplished by taking cells from the cervix which are then sent out to a lab to check for abnormal cell changes and cervical cancer.

At the end of the exam most doctors will have you dress and then meet you in their office to discuss your examination and if any additional tests are needed.

If you are over a certain age, or if the breast exam caused the doctor concern, you will receive a referral for a mammogram.  This examination is the first line of defense, especially for young women not considered “high-risk” for breast cancer.

Hopefully, this clears up the mystery of women’s health care.  My bet is that it involved more than most (not all!) men realized.

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A stay-at-home mom with an obsession for National politics.

Comments (41)

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  1. cassandra m says:

    You go, P!

    The response about Planned Parenthood not providing any mammograms had its intended audience — the usual know-nothings who are aggrieved at the slightest thing that doesn’t suit their world view. Any man living with a woman he cares about would know for certain that a doctor with mammogram equipment in the office is a very, very rare thing.

  2. puck says:

    “Would anyone expect an oncologist to provide chemo and radiation in their office? ”

    Actually, there is a trend now for oncologists to do the chemo in their own offices, because it is so lucrative. A lot of chemo treatments are now being pulled out of hospitals and into private offices. This is causing financial distress for a lot of hospital oncology departments, and causing them to cut back in other services.

    Probably the standards should be raised to require more chemo to be done in a hospital setting where it is generally safer. In a doctor’s office, if a problem arises during chemo, the backup plan is “Call 911.”

    Radiation on the other hand still has too much overhead to do in a private office.

    Generally though mammogram screening is done in a different facility from where the mammogram equipment is. Because if you own a mammogram machine, you would rather spend your whole day doing mammograms than doing less profitable screenings. Same for any expensive equipment. A lot of the larger practices set up a standalone imaging office.

  3. pandora says:

    I would never permit a doctor to give me chemo in his/her office. I went to many chemo appointments with my friend, and almost every time I was there someone reacted badly to chemo and the the place went nuts – nurses and doctors running, people yelling, loud speakers calling “Stat!”

    Very frightening.

    But my point here is that the claim that it’s okay to de-fund Planned Parenthood because they don’t perform mammograms demonstrates a stunning ignorance of women’s health.

  4. socialistic ben says:

    i dunno. none of that sounds as fun as a prostate exam.

  5. pandora says:

    I knew I would forget something. Many gynecological exams include a DRE exam (mine does).

    But I’m having trouble figuring out your comment, Ben. Because I’m not sure if you’re being snarky, or saying that women should be happy they don’t have to endure a rectal exam? (Which they do.)

    I’m sensing some big knowledge gaps in women’s health.

  6. socialistic ben says:

    im a little hurt that you wouldn’t be able to recognize my inappropriate sense of humor after all this time.
    You’re confusing Most Men with occam, and the ones who hold elective office. Our bodies are both very different and they require different care. a good health care plan covers what needs to be covered. I think a lot of men see it that way. I do know that women talk about this sort of stuff with each other way more than men do.(i base that on personal experience so dont ask for links)
    Knowledge gap, maybe. doesn’t mean we don’t care or don’t want to make sure you get the care you need.

  7. pandora says:

    I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings. You know I love ya!

  8. socialistic ben says:

    aww, shucks.
    nothing you’ve ever posted makes me feel half as bad as the Good Man Project… (fellas, if you want to feel genuinely guilty for being male, check out some of those articles.)
    I dont think this problem is anatomical. I think it is political. There are plenty of women on the conservative side of the War (on women’s bodies) It is ideological, not genderical (new word)

  9. Que Pasa says:

    I don’t see what this has to do with a few hundred thousand dollars being donated from a private charity to a quasi-public institution with a billion dollar operating budget. So is PP now going to go after everyone who rescinds charitable giving to them?

  10. pandora says:

    I realize you don’t see, Que Pasa.

    Here’s the deal: Komen politicized itself. A lot of people supporting and donating to Komen didn’t like that. These people decided to no longer support Komen. Isn’t that the free market at work?

    For instance, if a charity said it would only donate to pro-choice institutions, my guess is that some people wouldn’t support them. That would be their right.

    But this post was about the new right-wing talking point (google it) that since PP didn’t perform mammograms, only issued referrals, they weren’t really helping in the fight against breast cancer. Which is nonsense. As this post demonstrates.


    QP, please stop embarrassing us.

    fraternally yours,
    your fellow men.

  12. Liberal Elite says:

    QP, Here is it very simply.

    The right wingers want to stop abortion, and that political war hasn’t gone so well… So they upped the game and started to go after Planned Parenthood, a prominent women’s health care organization.

    This is like going into a war zone and killing all of the civilians. To the right wingers, women’s health care was just collateral damage, but to the women affected, it is an unforgivable escalation.

    For “killing civilians” in their war on abortion, the right wing needs to be punished… and that punishment is coming.

  13. occam says:

    I appreciate the blind assumption that I am man.

    Now answer my question.

  14. socialistic ben says:

    women were never the collateral damage. they have always been the primary target.
    Stopping abortion takes away their right of choice… turning them into (in conservative eyes, not mine) a dependent pregnant specimen. , cutting down on BC takes away their right to not get pregnant…. if they are immoral enough to do something as disgusting as have sex, they should be punished with pregnancy…… I really think conservative men (AND WOMEN) are very truly threatened by female sexuality. these are the same people who hear about a rape and ponder what she was wearing…. was she asking for it? was she leading him on?
    Of all these Conservatives, i think the only one who has shown consistency is…. yes ive had a drink or two… Christine O’donnel…. at least SHE thinks guys shouldn’t masturbate….. as well as women be uteruses with bewbs. It’s all so disgusting.

  15. Aoine says:

    @ben- can u revoke QP’s Man-card??

    we want and need more men like you 🙂

  16. pandora says:

    I did answer your question, Occam.

    And I have no doubt you’re male.

  17. Thanks for this pandora. I think one of the outcomes of this debacle is that women said ENOUGH! We are more than our breasts.

  18. Que Pasa says:

    If some people don’t like abortions, then they shouldn’t have their tax dollars paying for them. Right? Particularly if the said abortions are not performed by the government, but by an external non-profit. Regardless, you all are overly hyperventilative about abortion, when you should be more concerned with the lack of personal responsibility that results in the vast majority of unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

    As for the SGK vs. PP issue at hand. I still don’t see what the big deal is over a few $100K/year, when PP runs on $1B/year and has a director who makes $500K in salary and benefits. They don’t seem to be hurting for the money. Did the PR sting? Is that why the PP Nazis went ape?! Come on, you can be honest.

  19. Liberal Elite says:

    @cupie “If some people don’t like abortions, then they shouldn’t have their tax dollars paying for them. Right?”

    Does that go for unwanted weapon systems too? or how about those oil depletion allowances? or maybe those coal subsidies??

    Oh, and the claim that taxpayers are paying for abortions is bogus. That’s why that congressional “investigation” is going nowhere. He’s already got egg all over his face.

    “…you should be more concerned with the lack of personal responsibility…”

    Maybe you should be less concerned about trying to control the women around you.

    You know… We really do prefer to live in a 1st world nation, not some backwater 2nd or 3rd world nation… So please stop trying to drag us all down.

  20. pandora says:

    I was going to respond to Que Pasa’s taxes nonsense, and then Liberal Elite jumped in and delivered the smack down.

    As far as his comment on “personal responsibility”… that’s GOP speech for “Ladies keep their legs closed” not “We need to encourage and fund birth control.”

    And I love the dash of homophobia thrown at Ben. Classy.

    Watching Que Pasa lose his argument is a thing of beauty.

  21. Andy says:

    Do not men have to get referals when doctors find strange things happening to the prostrate to find out what is truely going on?

  22. Que Pasa says:

    Wow, it really is easy to tweek you guys into nonsensical replies!

    LE…you missed, by a rather wide margin. The difference btw, say, the military and PP is the former is a central function of our government, while the later is a separate non-profit entity that survives on contributions. As a part of its function, it also provides services, that over the course of recent human history, many people find abhorent. Actually the majority of Americans are now pro-life.

    And what’s with this “control women” meme? No one is trying to control them, per say; as one can be loose as she (or he) wants. Though, when it comes time to pay the piper, don’t come crying to me. Personal responsibility is not NOT doing things, but taking care of the repercussions derived from one’s own actions.

    So, Pandy, we can’t make fun of buggerizing anymore? Say it ain’t so!

  23. pandora says:

    Loose? Oh my, you are a dinosaur.

  24. kavips says:

    When pacifists can opt out of paying the percentage of their taxes that is going to the use of the military, only then will it be fair to allow lifers to opt out of paying taxes for abortions…

    To think anything else it is fair otherwise, is just plain silly…..

  25. Que Pasa says:

    Yes, as opposed to using the words slut, whore, skank etc.

  26. pandora says:

    All words that only apply to women. Don’t worry, everyone knows what you’ve saying all along. Liberal elite was correct; your goal is to control women.

    Here’s why you are so upset. This was a HUGE loss for your side. It wasn’t about the money. It was about how your “values” lost… and lost big.

  27. socialistic ben says:

    Notice how these “well she shoulda kept her legs shut” types never EVER seem to demand “responsibility” from the other half of the pregnancy?

  28. Liberal Elite says:

    @P “This was a HUGE loss for your side. It wasn’t about the money. It was about how your “values” lost… and lost big.”

    Obama’s intrade reelection value jumped 3% during this event, and that’s not due to anything that happened in Nevada. More change is coming. It’s looking more and more like November may be a major smack down.

  29. socialistic ben says:

    From the frothy one
    “I don’t believe breast cancer research is advanced by funding an organization that does abortions where you’ve seen ties to cancer and abortions,”
    If you make the immoral decision to seduce a man into involuntarily impregnating you and you get an abortion, you deserve to get breast cancer.
    I dont think it’s that they dont understand women’s health… i dont think they understand basic human biology….. why should they? science is evil in conservaland.

  30. Sammy says:

    So how many mammograms has Komen done in their offices? Occam is a nutcase.

    Pandora The men who read the entire article, already know what goes on inside the ob/gyn office. But as you stated, those who don’t know, more than likely stopped reading.

    Ignorance and stupidity have quite remarkable self defense mechanisms.
    I have discovered that people rarely snap out if it. No matter how much you try to help them.

  31. Que Pasa says:


    You must be an old housewife. These days the ‘kids’ call guys who get around ‘male sluts’ or ‘man-whores’….FYI.

  32. pandora says:

    But you didn’t use those terms with those qualifiers, did you?

  33. socialistic ben says: Ron Paul again proves he is just an arch conservative in a libertatrians’ skin. My friends who think they like this guy are changing their minds, and FAST.
    QP…. you are a sad and pathetic little man. also, for the record, people who try and show their ‘cred by referencing “what they kids say” are almost always wrong. Your argument is just like “well, the black say that word to each other, so why cant i paint it all over my house?” dolt.

  34. pandora says:

    Remember, Ben, when Republicans trotted out “forcible” rape. Just more of the same.

  35. Liberal Elite says:

    There’s no such thing as a anti-choice/pro-life libertarian.

  36. socialistic ben says:

    ah yes, forcible rape. as opposed to passive rape, and Honest rape…
    speaking of various kinds of rape…. he said wryly…. Ive been curious about what the ladies here have to say about this article since a read it a few months ago. I know this thread is about men not understanding women’s health care, but i think that is just a part of a greater misunderstand between the “2” sexes.

  37. pandora says:

    Interesting article, Ben. The traffic light is a perfect symbol. I think he probably jumped the gun with the rape comment. That, alone, would have freaked me out. Which is probably why the relationship ended – both were freaked out.

  38. MJ says:

    Here’s one that obviously doesn’t.

    Rethugs are so easily fooled.

    John Fleming, a GOP congressman from Louisiana, fell for a months-old joke on Monday when he cited an article from The Onion as a real news source.

    Fleming shared a link on Facebook to an article from the satirical newspaper headlined “Planned Parenthood Opens $8 Billion Abortionplex.”

    “More on Planned Parenthood, abortion by the wholesale,” he wrote.

  39. socialistic ben says:

    they’ve done that before.. Fox once cited an Onion article about “Obama sends rambling, possibly intoxicated, e-mail to entire “organizing for america” list at 2am” They are such morons.

    I dont think there was a good way for her to have said what she said. Obviously hearing “you had sex with someone who didn’t want it” (especially if that someone is a person you care deeply about) is a bit crushing. It’s also possible that their relationship wassn’t right to begin with.
    My take away form that article was 1) dude, if she was stiff as a board, pump the breaks… (at LEAST) and 2) she could be more articulate… we dont need to be lied to ( aka “i have a headache) If us guys really care, a simple “im not feelin it tonight” and a cold shower does the trick.
    It’s interesting that you though he went to far by asking that question…. I KNOW I would have at least tortured myself with the same question and probably would have blurted it out.

    Ah well, if we (x’s and y’s) totally understood each other, it wouldn’t be half as fun.

  40. Jason330 says:

    Now hold on a sec’ Women are supposed to enjoy sex? Is that the subtext of this thing?