In Geneva, the Faculty of Medicine offers genital anatomy classes that present differences.
Anatomy teaching is becoming more inclusive at the University of Geneva’s Faculty of Medicine. It now teaches what the genitalia of intersex or transgender people look like. The aim is to better train doctors to deal with the realities of their future patients.
The representation of human genitalia is often surrounded by taboos and misconceptions. At Geneva’s Faculty of Medicine, the new anatomy of the reproductive and sexual system program offers a new approach to the subject, incorporating notions of diversity and inclusivity.
A compulsory practical course for second-year students. “The idea is to make future doctors aware of the diversity of their patients,” explains Céline Brockmann, scientific associate at the Faculty of Medicine.
The first challenge for students? Realizing that there is no standard size, color or shape. “In anatomy textbooks, penises and vulvae are represented very schematically. These representations have absolutely nothing to do with what we see in real life or in the clinic”, explains one of the course instructors.
In addition to morphological variations, the course also explains to future doctors what organs with excision can look like. Another important representation is that of the organs of intersex and transgender people, modified by surgery or hormonal treatment in adulthood.
Including notions of pleasure
The course is designed to be taboo–free, thanks to new modelling and 3D printing techniques that enable better representation.
In addition to elements relating to urological and reproductive aspects, the course also incorporates the notion of sexual pleasure.
Mathieu Nendaz, vice-dean of pre-graduate teaching at the Faculty of Medicine, points out that most of this knowledge has been around since the late 19th century. “One example is the clitoris, which has been largely neglected in teaching,” he recalls. “These are not new themes, but today society is talking about them much more. With the lifting of certain taboos, our institution has a duty to best equip future doctors”, he adds.
The results of the course evaluations are conclusive: the student body is enthusiastic about this new way of learning, both in terms of content and form. Geneva’s Faculty of Medicine is currently the only academic institution in Switzerland to offer this type of teaching.