The board has insisted that gynecologists treat only women, barring the doctors from performing gynecological techniques — like screenings for anal cancer — on men.
Similar screenings for cervical cancer resulted in a drastic decline in overall cases, and doctors hoped men might see the same results.
But gynecologists who want to keep their board certification have to obey the board's directive, which also has the effect of barring a number of doctors from treating male patients in an upcoming $5.6 million National Cancer Institute anal cancer clinical trial.
Members of the board told the New York Times that it was enforcing these rules because of history.
Dr. Larry C. Gilstrap, the group’s executive director, said the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology was specifically designed to treat problems of the female reproductive tract and was “restricted to taking care of women.” Of the 24 medical specialties recognized in the United States, he said, it is the only one that is gender-specific, and it has been that way since 1935.
“We haven’t heard of any compelling reason to change anything,” the board's director of evaluation, Dr. Kenneth L. Noller told the Times.