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Dear 4-Way,

Recently, I had an appointment with my gynecologist for my annual pelvic exam. My regular doctor is out on maternity leave so my appointment was with a different doctor I’d never met—a very attractive woman. We talked for a few minutes about the standard topics you talk about before a pelvic exam, and then somehow, the conversation shifted to regular stuff like movies and great restaurants. She was really funny and as I mentioned before, very attractive. Would it be weird to ask out my gynecologist? And if it’s not weird, how would you suggest I do it? —BG, San Francisco, California

The straight woman’s perspective: Rebecca Brown

I have one word for you, BG: ewwwwwww! Yes, it’s weird to ask out your gynecologist! Seriously, has your dating pool narrowed so much that you have to resort to a woman who swabs your cervix for a cell sample? For the love of stirrups, girl, I think you need to open up your dating speculum a little wider!

Okay, I’ll stop being judgey for a second and try to examine (ahem) your question a bit. You say you talked about “regular stuff.” While that’s lovely and sounds very civilized, it could be that she was trying to make you comfortable with a little small talk while she inspected the deep, dark orifices of your girlie privates. And maybe—just maybe, that’s all I’m sayin’—you thought that small talk was more meaningful than it actually was.

But maybe she did really like you. What do I know? I’m a straight woman and I’ve never felt a hint of flirtation from any of my gynecologists (thank God), male or female. I would only ask her out if you think there was a real connection—and be honest. Because if you decide to do it, you need to switch doctors—and I’m not talking switching people in the office, you need to switch buildings too. I know she’s not your regular doctor, but you need to channel Dionne Warwick and a few of her Psychic Friends so you can visualize the future. And one version of that future is this: you guys date, you have all kinds of dirty, fun sex, you have a tragic breakup, you lose twenty pounds and become breakup-tastic, and then one day, you’re sitting in an exam room wearing your paper towel gown, waiting for your regular doctor, and guess who steps into your exam room to borrow some KY Jelly? That’s right. Awkward. Switch doctors and send her a note asking her out, if you must. But I still say ewww.

The straight man’s perspective: Chris Kennedy

Asking your gynecologist out would just be stirring-up trouble. Ba dum bum. There was an opening and I had to take it. Bad dum bum. Sorry, had to get those out of the way.

Okay, as a straight male, I admittedly have very little experience with gynecologists, save the guy I saw in college wearing an “Amateur Gynecologist. Free exams today!” t-shirt.

Notwithstanding, I did have a young, attractive female doctor examine me once. While we had a pleasant conversation, it was awkward and it was hard to be completely honest. Sexual partner history? “Gosh, I really can only be with one woman … who I enjoy treating with respect, taking long walks on the beach with, and showering her with little thoughtful gifts. How about you?”  So I can relate a little bit to your predicament. I zipped my pants and my mouth and didn’t ask her out. I say you do the same. Yes, I think it would be weird to ask her out right now.

You’ll need to examine a few things of your own—above the waistline—before proceeding.  This doctor-patient relationship is not an appropriate one for potential dating—it seems unethical. I’d look into that before you consider contacting her, just to save you both from an uncomfortable conversation.  Also, is there a chance you’re misconstruing your enjoyable conversation as flirting as opposed to good beside manner? Consider this possibility strongly.  Should you bump into her at one of those great restaurants or movies you spoke of, you may get a better gauge of her interest level and see how you two interact outside of the exam room—when neither of you is in such a compromising position. Only then can you make a better diagnosis. Until then, have patience, patient.

The gay man’s perspective: Darren Maddox

I must say I’m a little out of my league on this one so I did what anyone would do in my situation: I Googled “annual pelvic exam.” Apparently, your annual pelvic exam is to make sure your reproductive organs are healthy while helping your health care provider detect any medical conditions that could lead to something more if not treated. Oddly enough, it mentioned NOTHING about developing a crush on your physician and wanting to get it on with her. 

First of all, are you sure she wasn’t just trying to make you feel more at ease while in her office by bringing up common topics like movies and restaurants? Or was she full-on flirting with you while checking under the hood? If you feel she was coming on to you and you’re interested in her, why not ask her out? You said she isn’t your regular gynecologist so what do you have to lose? Technically, I don’t think she can ask you out due to that whole client-patient relationship thingy (ridiculous) so you’ll need to make the first move. If she’s still the stand-in for your regular doc, fake an illness. Go see her again for confirmation. You’ll be in a quiet area (cold, but quiet) so you will be able to talk. Just before leaving, tell her you have to ask her something. Turn on the charm, tell her you feel really awkward about it, but you were wondering if she would like to check out one of the restaurants she was talking about sometime. If she says yes, you’re going to be happy. If she says she can’t, gracefully bow out, tell her you understand, and leave it at that. Then call to find out who will be examining you before going in again next time. Or find a new gynecologist.

The gay woman’s perspective: Jody Fischer

Hmm, such a lesbian quandary. Do you think gay guys ever get crushes on their proctologists? Believe it or not, I’ve heard this story from lesbians before, so know that you’re not the first to be attracted to your gynecologist. Although I hope that the pelvic exam etc. was a strictly clinical experience and not some patient/doctor fantasy.

Before you do any asking, get a new gynecologist and call the office to let her know that you will not be her patient any longer. Even is she is just a temporary doc, switch to a new office. That makes things “less messy” if you know what I mean. There’s a real boundary issue about doctors dating patients. It’s a balance-of-power issue and it’s not ethical.  Once she’s not your doctor, you can treat this like any other asking out scenario. There are a few pitfalls though. How do you know she is single and how do you know she dates women? I’ve been to doctors where it’s common knowledge in the local queer community what her sexual orientation is. If that’s the case, then she has probably been in relationship with someone, who knows someone, who I know. And sometimes, I just get a vibe about it. What are you basing your knowledge on? Just how much “probing” have you done about this woman?

Either way, you’re a ballsy one to dive on in and check it out.

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