Skip to content

Women's Health

Font Size

Gynecology for Guys

What men need to know.

WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Craig H. Kliger, MD

July 31, 2000 -- Donald Smith hesitates outside the door of a basement classroom at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Diego, Calif. He's 56, with gray hair, but the anxious expression on his face makes him look like a school kid who forgot his homework.

Before Smith has time to fake a stomach ache, Bruce Bekkar, MD, a Kaiser obstetrician-gynecologist, persuades him to come on in. "You're in the right place," says Bekkar, who teaches the class called "PMS, the Menopause, and You."

Recommended Related to Women

Your Age-by-Age Guide to a Healthy Heart

By Janice Graham As you hit one of those big birthdays, you probably worry more about new wrinkles than about less visible body parts — like your heart. But recent research has found that each decade of your life is a crossroads, with new health concerns to worry about. What's more, you need to be aware of these issues — because your doctor may not be. "Many physicians fail to recognize how much a woman's risk factors for heart disease evolve over her lifetime," says Nieca Goldberg,...

Read the Your Age-by-Age Guide to a Healthy Heart article > >

This three-hour crash course for men about women's anatomy and health concerns is believed to be the only one of its kind in the United States, although Bekkar hopes it will become a trend. His premise is straightforward: Teach men to understand why their wives or girlfriends may sometimes feel crabby, bloated, or on fire. By doing so, relationships are saved, and often grow stronger. Trouble brews, he says, when guys don't understand what their wives or girlfriends are going through.

Soon, Smith is sitting in the classroom, surrounded by 13 other men, most of whom look as uncomfortable as he does. They busy themselves reading handouts, eyes glued to the printed materials. Bekkar, who has taught the classes monthly for two years and always has a full house, warms them up quickly with his easy lecture style, punctuated by jokes, jazzy slides, and a wit honed by his stand-up stint at a San Diego comedy club. As he teaches the men, women attend a similar class next door to discuss their own concerns about PMS and menopause. Some of them are the girlfriends and wives of the guys in the class.

While most of the men are here because their partners asked them to come, about a third came to the class even though their wives didn't. James, 50, became concerned a few months ago when his wife Jan showed signs of unusual behavior. Three times in six months she forgot to mail the credit card bill. "Never in her life has this happened," he says. She was feeling stressed-out and out of control. When his wife's friend suggested it could be menopause, James decided to come and get educated.

Ignorance Is Widespread

As his class settles in, Bekkar assures them that they're not the only ones in the dark about women's anatomy. As proof, he displays the drawings he collected at a focus group conducted while the class was in the discussion phase. He asked several men, ranging in age from 25 to 55, to draw and label the female reproductive system as accurately as they could.

He shows three of the winning drawings, which he also includes in his book, Your Guy's Guide to Gynecology, written with his colleague, Udo Wahn, MD. "This is one of the better ones," says Bekkar, grinning. The "first prize" drawing Bekkar refers to is a childish picture that resembles a faceless rabbit with ears (the ears are actually meant to be the fallopian tubes). Another winning drawing looks like a close-up of the same rabbit, and the third, charitably speaking, could be compared to a flower. And these were drawn, Bekkar points out, by educated men: a banker, a computer consultant, and an administrator.

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
 
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
insomnia
Is it menopause or something else?
 
Couple with troubles
Article
Bone density illustration
VIDEO
 
Young woman being vaccinated
Slideshow
woman holding hand to ear
Slideshow
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
Slideshow
mother and daughter talking
Evaluator
 
intimate couple
Article
puppy eating
Slideshow