In addition to reproductive care, women's health spans a diverse range of issues. From the complex differences in women's hormonal and physiological makeup to the cultural factors tied to women's career paths, mental health, and more, women's health requires a holistic approach with the interconnected medical resources to match.
For Columbia Memorial Health (CMH), the last several years have been devoted to strengthening the network of women's health services for residents of Columbia and Greene counties.
From gynecology and obstetrics to breast and bone health, orthopaedics, urogynecology, and more, the team of providers is composed of specialists who have years of experience treating women in the community. "We serve women throughout their lifecycle," says Cynthia Friedman, a Certified Nurse Midwife at CMH's Women's Health Centers in Hudson and Catskill.
Advances in Breast Health Screening and Treatment
Regular screening for breast health continues to play a vital role for women at any age. According to Dr. Rakel Astorga, a general surgeon at CMH who specializes in breast surgery, the last few years have seen significant advances in the treatment of breast cancer that allow for higher survivorship and quality of life.
In addition to advanced imaging technologies like digital screening mammograms, breast ultrasound, breast MRI, and breast biopsy, last year CMH acquired several 3D mammography units. The leading-edge technology generates a three-dimensional picture of the breast that gives a more complete view of tissue compared to conventional two-dimensional mammogram images.
Thanks to CMH's affiliation with Albany Med, Dr. Astorga can also provide her patients with new reconstruction and plastic surgery options they didn't have access to before. She can also bring complex cases to Albany Med's multidisciplinary academic tumor board, which allows physicians of different specialties to create a holistic plan for a patient's treatment and care.
Urogynecology: Where Gynecology and Urology Meet
According to Dr. Edward Marici, CMH's urogynecologist, many urologists specialize in men's health and most OB-GYNs don't treat incontinence or bladder issues. As a result, women are often unsure of where to seek help. The answer lies with urogynecology, also known as female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
Through a blend of treatment options like physical therapy and minimally invasive surgery, Dr. Marici's practice helps women of all ages navigate issues that might otherwise go unseen. "Our certified physical therapist is the only one in the area certified in pelvic floor physical therapy," he says.
Though many women come to him for bladder incontinence related to aging, he also sees a significant number of women in their 30s and 40s who struggle with stress incontinence related to coughing, sneezing, and changes related to childbirth.
Trends in Women's Bone and Joint Health
Sports injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, osteoarthritis, and fractures can plague women throughout their lives. According to Dr. Catherine Shin, an orthopaedic surgeon at CMH who specializes in hand surgery, hand-related ailments in particular tend to afflict women more.
While she has historically treated mostly middle-aged women for those issues, she's seeing more women in their late 20s and early 30s come in with carpal tunnel and trigger finger. According to her, the trend is likely related to all-day computer and electronic device usage.
As women age, bone health is still paramount. According to Dr. Shin, a fall experienced by a woman in her 80s or 90s is "a huge life-changing event for the whole family." Surgery can certainly help fix the broken bones, says Dr. Shin, but for many women the key to staying independent late in life is a robust preventative health care plan. It's important to incorporate bone health screenings and regular in-person and telehealth visits right alongside a realistic plan for long-term care tailored to your family dynamics and individual needs.