Update: Gynecologists can Treat Some Men

In Male Pelvic Pain by Stephanie PrendergastLeave a Comment

Last month we blogged about the issue of gynecologists treating male pelvic pain patients. At issue was a statement released from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG), warning gynecologists who were treating male pelvic pain patients that doing so could cost them their certification.

Today we’d like to update you on a new development.

Since then, the board has said that gynecologists who had been treating male patients could continue to see those patients.

While this is a step in the right direction, the policy has not been reversed, and gynecologists cannot take on new male pelvic pain patients.

According to ABOG, the new rule, which was released back in September of last year, was an effort to prevent gynecologists from practicing procedures that they were not trained for, such as cosmetic Botox and liposuction.

The board told the New York Times that some gynecologists who were performing these procedures were advertising themselves as “board certified” without pointing out that what they were certified in was obstetrics and gynecology, not cosmetic surgery.

However, one presumably unintended consequence was that gynecologists who are expert in treating pelvic pain were told they could no longer take on male patients. The bottom line is that many of the top experts on pelvic pain are gynecologists and they have been treating male patients who have found it impossible to find the proper treatment elsewhere.

For example, some patients whose pelvic pain was caused by pudendal nerve entrapment were looking to gynecologists to have the pudendal nerve decompression surgery.

According to the New York Times article covering the recent change, “the permission granted for treating pelvic pain is limited and applies only to ‘current patients,’ defined as those whom the doctors had already seen or for whom they had scheduled appointments on or before Dec. 18. No new patients are to be accepted.”

In her role as the president of the International Pelvic Pain Society, which has been communicating with ABOG on the issue, Stephanie spoke to the New York Times making it clear that “the board’s permission was good news but that she wished it had been extended to new patients as well, because gynecologists often have the most success in diagnosing and treating pelvic pain in men.”

Also quoted in the article was Arthur L. Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. Dr. Caplan said “I think using the male-female boundary — it’s old-fashioned and should change. What should be the basis of certification and specialization is what skills you have, what knowledge you have that can benefit patients. A bright line for male-female in 1935 might have made sense. In 2013 it doesn’t.”

Click here read the Times article in its entirety.

This is an issue that is important to us and we are going to continue to follow it closely and will update you on all new developments.

Are you a patient or a physician who has been impacted by this issue? If so, we’d like to hear from you!

All our best,

The Staff of PHRC

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