Increasing popularity of gender specific services
When it comes to serious health issues, like infertility or ovarian cancer, or when it comes to simple matters, like annual checkups or allergies, finding a doctor that not only has the right kind of knowledge and skill, but also a doctor who truly understands, is critical. That is why when many women choose a doctor for themselves they turn to another woman, selecting a female doctor, to advise and to identify with their issues and their needs.
According to the Boston Globe, “Nearly half of medical school students nationwide are now female, and as they enter the profession, they are making patient care friendlier and therefore may be less likely to get sued than male physicians. Women physicians also are more likely to serve minority, urban, and poor populations and are twice as likely to go into primary care.”
Dr. Cheryl Short M.D., who practices at Obstetrical & Gynecological Associates Inc. at the Glendale Medical Center in Valparaiso, is a fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She says that the reason so many women pursue health as a career is to bring a personal level of health care to other women.
“The major benefit to having a female doctor is that we have an automatic understanding of what the patient is going through. We understand that they are balancing their health with working and raising a family.
“That is something that male doctors may not fully understand because they always have women in the backup role, but we understand,” says Short.
Being able to identify with patients is important to bringing patients the greatest level of care, says Short. “We go through the same life changes as our patients. We have the same issues, like abnormal menstruation, pregnancy, infertility, and so we go through those stages of life too and have faced those same obstacles,” she says. This understanding has led her practice in Valparaiso to change for the better, she says, which means better care for her patients. “When I came here in 1995, we had an epidural rate of 2 percent, which was way under the national average. Now we have an epidural rate that is right on target with the national average, so childbirth is a much more pleasant experience for our patients. We’re more generous with pain medications because we’ve all been there—in pain—and we understand,” she says.
“Similarly, we are also much more generous with contraceptive practices. We don’t want unwanted pregnancies and we understand that women don’t have the ability many times to take time off of work for a pregnancy, so we have many more options available for preventing pregnancy that we offer our patients,” says Short.
Other procedures and medical technology has progressed for women, and there are three key advances in the arena of women’s health, Short says. “One is the use of endometrial procedures, which are used to treat heavy bleeding in women. Using these advanced procedures, we are able to reduce the hysterectomy rate because many doctors used to opt for a hysterectomy instead of a more minor procedure. People come to us after having a hysterectomy at a very young age, like in their 30s, and many of these hysterectomies were done by male doctors, but there are always more options depending on one’s lifestyle,” she says.
Short says another advance for women’s health care comes for those looking for a safer method of tubal sterilization without a lot of downtime. “Adiana tubal is performed under local sedation and is easier to perform than one with a scope. It’s safer, and it’s a minor procedure. It’s a permanent means of sterilization and you don’t have to take time off from work. You also don’t have to have an argument with your husband over who is going to get a procedure done, because this is such a minor procedure,” says Short. According to the Mayo Clinic, “During insertion of the Adiana system, your health care provider heats a small portion of each of your fallopian tubes and then inserts a tiny silicone device into each tube. The Adiana system blocks the fallopian tubes and causes scar tissue to form around the devices, preventing sperm from reaching the egg. The Adiana system doesn’t affect your menstrual cycle.”
Short says that another procedure that is advancing women’s health is the transobturator sling, which is used to treat female incontinence. According to the Atlanta Center for Laparoscopic Urogynecology, “In this approach, a synthetic transvaginal suburethral sling is placed through the retropubic space without using suspension sutures. The vaginal sling is held in place by the friction between the mesh and the tissue canals created by the metallic needle passers. Scar tissue later fixes the mesh, preventing migration. Because the sling is not anchored to the pubic bone, ligaments, or rectus fascia, it is considered ‘free of tension,’” which is why the procedure is sometimes called a tension-free sling. Short says, “Patients can retain their normal range of activities without embarrassment. Many times before this procedure, incontinence will hamper lifestyle. We have patients who wouldn’t exercise because they were afraid of leakage, but this procedure helps patients return to a normal lifestyle.”