Ladies Vs. Gentlemen

Conversations with my acupuncturist are always good for creating blog fodder. He usually has a pretty interesting perspective and raises lots of good questions about what we do. During our last session, we began to discuss the differences between male and female patients. I had never really thought about it before, but I do tend to see a lot more female patients. Whether this is indicative of females being more into this sort of thing, or males being babies about needles, I have no idea. All I know is, the ratio of women to men in my office is about 10:1.

I know that some men find acupuncture to be a bit "girly." I have no idea why. Big, long, hard needles? That's about as manly as it gets. I also spent a lot of time designing a room that is both estrogen and testosterone-friendly. It's very serene and peaceful, but definitely not filled with floral prints or Georgia O'Keefe paintings. Still, despite my efforts to maintain a gender-neutral environment, one of my males patients always jokes about his trips to see me. "I can't tell my friends I'm here," he laughed once. "They'll be like, is your acupuncture appointment before or after your pedicure?"

Perhaps the concept of self-care is perceived to be more feminine than masculine. I notice that most of my male friends would never plan out a massage (with some exceptions-I do have a select few who are a bit too interested in manscaping.) Maybe men feel that being pampered or taken care of is a sign of weakness. Or maybe they simply aren't comfortable being vulnerable? Those massage sheets can be awfully thin...

One thing I have definitely noticed, quite consistently, is that women are far more likely to reschedule for follow-up sessions than men are. For the most part, my male patients will simply tell me they'll come back when they need me. Even if I insist that one visit will not get rid of the chronic back pain they've been suffering with for 30 years, inevitably the response will be, "Yeah, okay, I'll come back when the pain comes back." Women, on the other hand, are far more likely to ask me what I recommend as far as treatment frequency. If I tell them I think that they need 2 treatments a week for 3 weeks, they will book right then and there. Could it be that women are more predisposed to following directions and taking advice? Or maybe men are less trusting and need to see physical proof of results before taking further action...

And now it's finally time...time to answer the big question, the one that looms large in my treatment room...the question I am asked every freaking day...YES, WOMEN ARE BETTER PATIENTS THAN MEN. They don't whine as much, they generally tolerate the needles much more gracefully, and they don't huff and moan about having to be on the table for a whole hour. Of course, the biggest complainers are usually snoring away about four minutes after I put the needles in, but that is neither here nor there. As my patients can attest, the needles are not something to be nervous about. However, it's natural to be wary the first time that you are in an unfamiliar environment, having a delightful young (ish) woman pinning you down with needles. Female first-timers tend to be a lot less flinchy and nervous, whereas most men start out tense and suspicious. I don't know how anyone could possibly be suspicious of this:


But I suppose I am wielding sharp objects and fiery cups. So perhaps the suspicion is warranted.