Why Some Women Distrust Doctors

It’s difficult for some women to trust their doctors these days.  There are many reasons for the lack of trust, including the following:

Mainstream Media – Media is keeping the public updated on all sorts of unsavory events involving doctors.   For example, many media headlines are exposing doctors who sexually abuse female patients.  Media also keeps us updated about the tendency of so-called regulatory committees to allow these doctors to continue practicing.  A national investigation revealed that doctors sexually abuse their patients more often than commonly thought, and that “a broken system forgives sexually abusive doctors in every state” (source).   In addition, “Dollars and Doctors”, a Propublica series containing over 70 articles, highlights problems related to the association between the pharmaceutical industry and physicians (source).  Other media headlines highlight stories related to doctors abusing drugs, making careless errors during surgery, inaccurate diagnoses, and deadly mistakes stemming from greed and/or incompetence (source).

Social Media – It’s a bit shocking when a doctor writes a blog post warning patients to not trust doctors, but in a post written by Dr. Peter Rost he plainly states “I’m a doctor, so I can say this with a straight face: Don’t trust your doctor. There’s no question in my mind that today most doctors are businessmen first and doctors second”  (source). This doctor’s post is difficult to ignore.  Social media also allows women to share negative health care experiences, and these shared experiences can help other women to avoid the same situations.  For example, women discuss negative encounters with doctors when they have conditions unrelated to their reproductive organs that need treatment, but their doctors ignore their conditions, instead attempting to coerce them into unwanted pap tests and other screening (source)

Evidence-Practice Gap – It can be difficult to trust a doctor who ignores or is unaware of the most recent available scientific evidence in relation to screening and exams such as pap tests, pelvic exams, and breast screening.  In some cases female patients are more up to date regarding current evidence than their doctors are.  It’s difficult to trust  doctors who attempt to coerce women into screening and exams by misrepresenting the evidence, when research reviews raise serious questions about the benefits of  pap tests (source), pelvic exams (source), and breast exams (source).  The evidence also highlights the harms associated with these types of screening, such as over diagnosis and follow up interventions that are unnecessary and can be harmful.  Some women are up to date regarding this recent scientific evidence, and these women may be left questioning their doctor’s competence and/or motives when his/her practices contradict the evidence.

Paternalism – It’s often easy to forget that doctors are working for their female patients given some doctor’s way of relating to them.  For example, when it comes to pap tests there is usually no discussion or shared decision involved.  Women often don’t get offered a choice about whether or not they want to have a pap test; and regardless of the reason for their visit they are simply expected to comply.  In fact, the withholding of informed consent has been standard practice for such a long time, and has been done so cleverly, that some women are not even aware that they have a right to choose.  Paternalism in medicine has deep roots, extending beyond doctors’ behavior and their tendency to withhold informed consent.  Women have had to endure what is commonly referred to as bikini medicine for a long time.  Bikini medicine refers to the tendency of scientists and doctors to focus only on a woman’s breasts and genitals, rather than on the whole body (source).  The tendency to focus on bikini areas to the exclusion of other body parts is concerning for a few reasons, including the fact that heart disease is a main cause of mortality in both men and women (source).  When researchers and practitioners focus on bikini areas there is less focus on the other areas, thus placing women at risk.

Personal Experience –  Some women experience physical and psychological harm as a result of physicians’ practices.  This blog is full of women’s shared experiences that reveal many more reasons why some women distrust doctors.  On this blog there are more than 10,000 comments, many of which reveal women’s experiences with doctors’ practices.  Many of these comments can be found under the following posts:  The Other Side of the Speculum: A Male Doctor’s Point of ViewDiscussion Forum,  and Psychological Harms of Pelvic Exams.

About forwomenseyesonly

Hi. My name is Sue and I am interested in promoting holistic and respectful health care.
Gallery | This entry was posted in lack of trust in doctors, medical sexual misconduct, pap test, pap test coercion, unnecessary pap test and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Why Some Women Distrust Doctors

  1. cindy knoke says:

    You make some very important points here. I wish your information would be included in medical education.

    • It’s nice to see you Cindy, and thanks so much for the feedback! That would be wonderful if it were 🙂

      • Penelope says:

        Thanks for the new post, Sue!

        We’ve been kind of feeding off of ourselves since the last post…..didn’t realize it was that long ago. This site – our site – is so invaluable. In a sea of websites – from hospitals to medical facilities and independent medical “officials” and offices that still keep up the lies about pelvics and paps and withholding the truth about the rarity of cervical cancer, our site is indeed a very welcome necessity to keep us grounded; keep us hoping; keep us fighting. I’m so glad you have the courage to keep it up. Our site has become known amongst our opponents. I’ve seen it mentioned in a derogatory way on one of those sites that promote pelvics; my apologies – I surf so much that I forgot the site. I wonder, though, if our opposers contact you – criticizing you – threatening you – trying to shut you down. I notice now that when I post comments, I get a message stating that my comments are being moderated – is this a result of outsiders trying to take legal steps against you? If you are being antagonized by those against our site, please let us know; please don’t let them discourage you as there’s so much misinformation misleading women. They must know the truth and unfortunately it’s taking time. Those who find our site sound like women who have found land after being lost at sea – dragging onto the beach and falling on the sand grateful to be safe and finding help. Please do keep our site, Sue; keep on giving us new posts; new information; new points to ponder.

        Be Blessed!

      • Thanks Penelope! I agree this is an important site for all the good reasons you mention, well worth keeping up. The comments (almost 11,000 now!) keep it up and running, so valuable. I’m glad to provide a new forum with more space!
        Sue 🙂

  2. adawells says:


    Just splashed all over the news here in the UK is this surgeon, who is expected to end up in prison, for carrying out unnecessary surgery on patients. Those who got the “treatment” privately are not expected to get any compensation, due to the private health care businesses getting themselves off the hook. I wonder how many of these women, ended up there through screening?

    • Penelope says:

      Hi Adawells:

      I just wanted to say Thanks. You gave me a nice compliment to one of my recent posts and I didn’t acknowledge it. Now, I can’t seem to find it. For what it’s worth to you – I’m sorry about that.

      Thanks again – be blessed.

  3. moo says:

    What might help some patients trust their doctors more is easier access to medical records for the patient and more control over what shared between others in the healthcare chain. While it might be and an advantage to have important information about medications or conditions such as diabetes or allergies available readily to emergency staff, I do not want my cancer screening history or lack of available to every single primary care provider I see. I want more control and more privacy. While it is possible to black out sime information sharing, the system is not easy to navigate. I just want more choices.

    • Alice says:

      Absolutely agree! It is time to end the practice when medical information is a one-way road: patients are expected to disclose every private detail with the doctors, while doctors are free to warp the facts and choose what to tell their patients and what to hide.

      For example, in Australia any medical record is legally the property of the doctor, even though every the patient is paying for its existence at their appointments. To add insult to an injury, the doctors have the right not to show the record to the patients. It’s outrageous!

  4. Lauren says:

    I had a doctor blame all of my problems on depression, but neglected to tell me that. He had me coming in every month acting like he was trying to figure out what was wrong. If he’d just told me that, I could’ve said it can’t be depression and if he still was being a jerk, found someone else. If I’m upset I don’t eat (my chief complaint was a ravenous appetite, not ONCE was this mentioned in my records). He also hounded me about getting a pap smear. Sorry, I refuse to support ob/gyns. I can’t support someone who thinks it’s acceptable to tell an 18 year old girl with debilitating cramps “that’s what’s so wonderful about menopause, you don’t have to worry about those things anymore”. I complained of a few symptoms to that thing, 2 of which are well known symptoms of hypothyroidism, and she just blew me off. If I didn’t have hypothyroidism I’d never go back to a doctor.

  5. Sick of big pharma and their lies says:

    I don’t trust doctors because they have proven to me their job is to sell me drugs and not protect my health. Even after I told my gyn that hormonal birthcontrol makes me suicidal and too emotional to function she still tries to push it on me. She even takes it a step further by manipulateing data and insisting condoms have an 18 percent failure rate. Which is bs. The pill has a higher failure rate actually because it’s effectivenes is contingent upon remembering to take it at the exact same time daily. And let’s face it, how many of us can do that. Unfortunately for her I’m not stupid so she sold zero drugs that day. My sanity comes before her beach house.

  6. adawells says:


    Some revealing observations raised here about how these doctors operate and some good tips for patients to be aware of. When I was getting treatment for cancer you are on a conveyor belt of appointments with no detail in the letter about what would take place at that appointment. As patients we should start asking questions about the necessity of every appointment and what will happen there.

    • Joanne says:

      Same happened to me after I was diagnosed with a blood clot in my lungs and I put in a complaint to the hospital about how I was treated at my outpatient appointment with them and how it had upset me that there was no information with my appointment letter about what would happen there when I went.

      I also complained about poor communication and how nothing was explained to me about what they would be doing and why and how it had upset me and I did receive an apology off them.

  7. diane says:

    how can women trust Drs ? they don’t respect a women’s right to refuse screening. celebrities
    opening talking about female organs being removed as prevention. Breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate reveals she recently had ovaries removed
    FOX News · 8 hours ago
    After undergoing a double mastectomy in 2008, breast cancer survivor Christina Applegate has preventively had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. “Two weeks ago, I had my ovaries and [fallopian] tubes removed,

    They its. like taking out a mechanical part and saying the device will still work.
    I feel don’t care about the long lasting mental effects on women.

    I have had enough of Drs abusing women, as preventive medicine.


  8. Kleigh says:

    Speaking of main stream media. This morning on the MSNBC news, two woman were interviewed about health care costs. The burden of rising costs. One woman said ” woman don’t have a choice about buying health insurance. We have to go to the doctor every year. On about how woman are burdand with paying up to 800 dollars a month already and what was 50 dollars more. Meanwhile I’m sitting hear 33 years old I do not have health insurance right now but I have managed with out going to a doctor in . And I have never seen a gynecologist before. I’m thinking have these healthy woman been helped by all this ” health care they receive. My question is why are most woman so brainless when it comes to this. Idk it just irks me. If I dare tell anyone I don’t go they act like I’m a freak.

  9. Leeb1 says:

    I have been abused recently by a horrible obgyn. I think I am having ptsd about it. It keeps waking me up out of my sleep. If I would of just listened to my body and not everyone else around me, I wouldn’t be in this horrible situation. I am trying to meditate and use the law of attraction. I just want to get this horrible thing out of my mind.

    • townshenddenise says:

      Leeb1 , how are you doing now??

      • Leeb1 says:

        I started focusing more on the goals that I want to accomplish. It still comes back every now and then but I try not to dwell on it. It was the worst experience I’ve ever had in my life.

  10. OverItAll says:

    Apparently doctors think it’s “unfair” for women to say no to male doctors, and the doctors aren’t ok with women choosing. I asked my husband and he said he’d choose a male doctor for himself or leave. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/get-healthy-orlando/os-me-male-gynos-clone-20180307-story.html

    • Elizabeth (Aust) says:

      It’s quite simple, these men need to take note: we now have a choice, finally, we have a choice. Where was the concern when the profession was almost exclusively male? When I was 19 years old, there were 3 female gynaecologists in the State.
      Do they think women were served well back in those days? I certainly don’t…
      Also, where’s the concern about male dominated fields in medicine, basically most other areas…urology, the various branches of surgery, etc.

      I read a thread on obgyn.net a few years ago that’s stayed with me, three male gynaecologists complaining women were choosing female doctors, they weren’t getting the daughters of their current patients etc.
      One doctor said he could always work in emergency medicine or the military, where women had no choice. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, why would a doctor, who claims he cares about women, want to FORCE his services on women? It sounds like power and control to me and it shows little respect for or concern about women, it’s all about what he wants…

      When women have no choice, that’s when abuse often follows…just look at the past.
      I well remember the days when a rape victim had to have an incredible invasive examination by the male police surgeon IF she wanted to take the matter further, I know some women walked away, they simply couldn’t face what felt like to them, a second rape.
      Now barriers have been broken down, the world have changed and we have a choice, if some don’t like it, too bad.

  11. Sometimes choosing a doctor by sex is not an option. I think of the surgery I had to after sustaining an injury to my testes. The only surgeon available was a (highly regarded) woman. I didn’t think much of it at the time other than that the pain (along with my testicles) was being removed. After that the only thing I noticed was that female medical personnel were more likely to refer to the operation as castration while males referred to it by a more benignly medical name: bilateral orchiectomy. Pure professionalism all round, though.

  12. Joanne says:

    I was on the receiving end of shoddy treatment from my last gp surgery after I had a blood clot in my lungs last December.

    Firstly I had called on them to get a sick note to have some time to recover away from work and I was told I was having a blood test with no explanation of what was going to happen or anything. I had been absolutely terrified as well but thankfully it was fine but that’s not the point.

    Then I went to see them to ask about a return to work and I was shouted at by one of the doctors there which was most rude and unprofessional when you are poorly!

    One afternoon I had returned home from work and had received a rude phone call off them as the nurse had wanted to see me for an anticoagulant review and I had asked what was going to happen and got told you will have to ask her that and this had upset me.

    Then the last straw was in April when I had gone to the pharmacy to pick up my repeat prescription only to be told they had refused to issue it until I had a blood test and it had been sprung on me again with no information or explanations of why and what it was for and at this point I had had enough and had said no I wasn’t going to their stupid blood test and made it clear I didn’t want it to the pharmacist and why I felt like that so he rang them and said how I felt about it and why and that they were to issue my prescription and they did back down and said one more but after that I would have to go in and see them.

    What it was that upset me wasn’t the blood test in itself but how I was treated by them.

    The following day I collected my prescription from the surgery and got it dispensed by the pharmacist over the road who said I was right to have stood my ground and how that wasn’t very nice treating me like that!

    Then I received a slip saying about the blood test on the prescription and it said no more prescriptions until seen and I thought to myself they can fuck off with their blood test and under no more prescriptions until seen I had written fuck off and I wasn’t going back there and was going to see about changing surgeries once I had calmed down!

    I did change surgeries after once I had calmed down and the new surgery is fine and the doctor was nice and I am happy to see her for a review in a few weeks time just before my current medication runs out.

  13. Sara says:

    I just wanted to leave a few links. The late Dr. Schwartz

    Spent her life trying to warn patients of unnecessary tests and overdiagnosed. She put together


    It is shocking to know how small your life time risk of being diagnosed vs dying of cancer.

    I recommend any books by H. Gilbert Welch:
    Should I be Tested for Cancer? Maybe Not and Here’s Why (University of California Press, 2004)
    Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health (Beacon Press, 2011)
    Less Medicine, More Health: 7 Assumptions That Drive Too Much Medical Care (Beacon Press, 2015)

    All Americans should read pages 20-27 of “How We Do Harm” by Otis Brawley MD it is an honest and scathing critic of “health care” in America. My favorite line is, “Patients need to learn that more care is not better care, that doctors are not necessarily right, and that some doctors are not even truthful.” Watch all of his lectures and talks on YouTube. They are on screening and how the medical community has harmed people with post menopausal hormone replacement, vioxx, prostate cancer screening, etc.

Speak your mind

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.