Presence of male assistant MD
23 January, 2007
I recently underwent fertility treatments and selected a female doctor due to my personal preferences.
During one of the procedures, I was going to be completely exposed from the waist down while a male assistant of the doctor was going to stand there assisting her in full view. I objected to not being covered at all and the participation of the male assistant, both of which made me feel extremely uncomfortable.
Aside from my personal preferences, is there any halachic basis for not having oneself exposed in such a way to a man, even though he is a medical professional?
Thank you for your assistance, and tizku lemitzot.
We appreciate the sensitive nature of this question.
Undergoing fertility treatments can be a vulnerable experience even without others present. Just as it is your right to have another person present in the room during an examination, it is your right to object to having another person in the room if there is no reason for him to be there. The doctor should certainly respect your wish regardless of the reason.
From a halachic standpoint, a woman should not be exposed when there is no medical purpose. This is the reason it is preferable to go to a female doctor when possible, as long as it does not entail any compromise in quality of treatment.
Technically, though, there is no prohibition on the patient’s part in a scenario such as you describe. The primary halachic concern applies to a male observer, but even this concern would likely not lead to a halachic transgression in the case that you describe. There is no prohibition involved when an observer’s presence serves a constructive purpose, whether medical (e.g., he is assisting the doctor medically), scientific (e.g., he is doing research), or professional (e.g., he is studying to become a doctor).
We stress again, with no relation to halacha, that you have the right to demand privacy in this situation. Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
This response was updated on 8 April 2021.
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