• Clodagh Meaney

Authors of a report evaluating attractiveness among women with endometriosis call for its withdrawal

The report rated the women based on breast size, physique and the age they first had sex.

Authors of a report evaluating attractiveness among women with and without endometriosis have denounced their work and called for its withdrawal from a medical journal seven years later.

Paolo Vercellini, Laura Buggio, Edgardo Somigliana, Giussy Barbara, Paola Vigano and Luigi Fedele penned an open letter to the Fertility and Sterility journal which published their report in January 2013.

As part of the report, 300 women were studied and judged based on their level of "attractiveness."

100 women with rectovaginal endometriosis were compared with women with peritoneal and ovarian endometriosis, and both groups were then compared against a control group of 100 women without the disorder.

The conclusion of the report found that "women with rectovaginal endometriosis were judged to be more attractive than those in the two control groups."

Furthermore, the report concluded that they had "a leaner silhouette, larger breasts" and had their first sexual intercourse experience earlier than the others.

Junior doctor Shannon Headley brought the seven-year-old report to their attention to "educate rather than shame."

"With the recent events and public shaming of The Journal of Vascular Surgery regarding their publication of Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content among Young Vascular Surgeons, and specifically the outcry from women surgeons regarding the implicit bias and gender discrimination using the word 'bikini,'" she wrote.

"A colleague contacted me today regarding Attractiveness of Women with Rectovaginal Endometriosis: A Case-control Study and the stated conclusion of "Women with rectovaginal endometriosis were judged to be more attractive than those in the two control groups," she said, continuing: "Moreover, they had a leaner silhouette, larger breasts, and an earlier coitarche."

"Although your methodology includes 4 independent female and male observers, I can foresee this article causing another outrage where women feel objectified or discriminated against and I wanted to bring this to your attention."

Shannon said she hoped the journal editor and report authors would consider her feedback.

In a letter to editors of the journal which publishes "original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause," the authors of the report apologised for their original work.

"The entire group of investigators contributing to the study entitled ‘Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study’ published in the January 2013 issue of Fertility and Sterility, requests to withdraw the article," they said in the co-signed request.

"We believe that our findings have been partly misinterpreted but at the same time realise that the article may have caused distress to some people. Women’s respect is a priority for us, and we are extremely sorry for the discontent the publication originated.”

It comes following recent controversy surrounding a report 'Prevalence of Unprofessional Social Media Content among Young Vascular Surgeons' published by the Journal of Vascular which found that 30 percent of female and 24 percent of male doctors surveyed had "inappropriate content" on their social media.

Deeming 9.4 percent of accounts to have "inappropriate attire", the study defined such as "pictures in underwear, provocative Halloween costumes, and provocative posing in bikinis/swimwear."

In protest, female doctors took to social media in their thousands to share their #MedBikini snaps. The photographs showed doctors in their bikinis and in a side-by-side image, the women in their surgery scrubs or with their stethoscopes showing that female doctors can save lives at work and wear whatever they please in their downtime.

General Practitioner and social media star Dr Doireann O'Leary shared her #MedBikini image where she slammed the study.

"This week a scientific paper was published in which male doctors openly admitted to using social media accounts to 'spy' on other doctors," her post began.

"They assessed their online presence and deemed content like bikini photos inappropriate. Needless to say, this has caused quite a stir amongst both male and female doctors alike and has sparked the trend #MedBikini."

Dr Doireann expressed her disgust that the paper not only passed an ethics committee, but also a peer-review process.

"What I do know is that patients don’t care what their doctors do in their personal life or share online."

"I've always shared my personal life quite openly," she said, continuing: "My patients don't care about my online presence as long as I'm taking care of them professionally and competently - which I of course always do my utmost to achieve."

Read more: #MedBikini: Doctors post bikini pics in response to a sexist report calling them 'unprofessional'

© 2020 by EMPWR

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