A commenter from the post below states that I'll not likely elicit sympathy by stating that women can be difficult patients, who require significant amounts of communication. The question is also raised why I would "generalize" 100% of my patient population, as surely, if there were no women to treat, I could no longer be an Ob/Gyn (sic). I find it overall amusing that anyone would believe the post below was written, in any way, to garner sympathy, and I also find it a bit irksome to be told that I "shouldn't generalize." I'm not. I am speaking from my own personal experience. Perhaps I should expound upon this point.
I went into Obstetrics and Gynecology precisely because I enjoy caring for the(complicated, difficult) female patient. I would not do anything else, but I would be absolutely lying if I said it wasn't without its difficulties. For the record, I happen to find male patients, no offense guys, infinitely more simple in many ways, but less likely to follow any directed care of a physician unless there is fear of loss of life or, ahem, other *important* functions. In my interactions with male patients, there was little extraneous conversation, merely exam, diagnosis, suggestion for treatment (which they may or may not decide to take, but they certainly weren't going to ask you any questions about it). Women patients, quite simply, are different. They do require a lot more communication; not just about the reason for certain symptoms that they may be feeling, but also for the rationale behind the treatments to alleviate the symptoms.
Usually, this is not a problem for me, being a woman myself, particularly verbose ("talks too much" was a very popular comment on my report cards sent home from school), and, not to mention, I happen to like explaining physiologic changes in a way that women can understand and to which they can relate. However, sometimes something as relatively facile as communication can cross the line. At times, it can be repetitive and monotonous (likely not so different from other jobs). At other times, I feel as though I am speaking a script, word for word. Sometimes, it can be frustrating (for both the patient and myself), because no matter how I frame the explanation, I cannot communicate my point. Most of all, it can become emotionally draining. Women routinely tell me things that would feasibly make most people's ears burn, make me worried for them, and sometimes bring me to the brink of tears. I have an impeccable poker face, but over time the walls get chipped away and I find myself unable to stop bringing my work home with me.
I suppose it is a good thing to be human, but in medicine it is important to remain detached in order to stay objective and to provide good care. It is a difficult balance between being connecting with the patient without becoming emotionally *involved* with the patient. This is difficult and soul-grinding, especially for those of us who have a tendency to try to "fix" people. It is a burden I more than willingly shoulder every. single. day, but honestly connecting with patients can be good for them and harder for me. I'm not willing to stop doing it, but to say that it shouldn't affect me emotionally is far more presumption than I would have the wherewithal to make from the outside looking in. In summation, saying that women are "difficult and complicated" patients is not meant as an insult or to "generalize" women, it is simply a statement that I find to be true, not only of my patients, but of myself, as well.