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Many Transgender Men Fail to Seek Optimal Gynecologic Care

People born with female genitalia and reproductive organs who later identify as male cite multiple reasons for not seeing a gynecologist as often as recommended, a new survey reveals.

photo of Amanda Wong

Adriana Wong at the ACOG 2017 annual meeting.

The good news is 81 percent of these transgender men said they’ve been to a gynecologist at least once. Also, 71 percent recognize the importance of an annual gynecologic checkup; 80 percent appreciate the routine cancer screening; and 83 percent agree on the importance of a physical exam. The survey included complete responses from 41 transgender men.

“Seventy-one percent responded that they viewed annual gynecologic care as important; however, only 37 percent of these respondents attend yearly gynecologic visits,” said Adriana Wong, a second-year M.D./MPH student at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine who presented these findings at the annual meeting of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in San Diego. “Our take-home message is that, despite the perceived importance of gynecologic care among transgender men, there is an apparent lack of access within this population.”

Transgender men cited gender dysphoria and mistreatment as reasons. “Fifty-six percent of survey participants reported delaying or avoiding gynecologic care due to gender dysphoria, and 20 percent had experienced mistreatment from a gynecologist before,” said Wong, who represented a research team led by Lydia Fein, M.D., a resident in obstetrics and gynecology at UM/Jackson Memorial Hospital.

A two-pronged solution could improve the situation: efforts to improve perception of gynecologists among members of the transgender community, along with increased awareness and training of OB/GYNs regarding care of transgender men. “We can develop transgender men-specific guidelines for gynecologic care and increase education for medical students and clinicians for how to provide medical care to transgender patients,” Wong said.

Tags: gynecologic care, healthcare access, transgender, Wong