Caring for the caregiver: Local doctor brings her passion for women’s health to Grass Valley
Special to The Union
Meet Dr. Xiong
Sierra Care Physicians
Grass Valley Office: 530-272-9770
Dr. Xiong comes from a large family of 12 children. She has always had an interest in women’s health, pediatrics, and adolescents. Her love for medicine grew as she was taking care of her own family and continues to grow as she meets people in the medical field who remind her of them. Her hobbies include gardening and spending time with her two daughters and thoughtful husband.
Pa Soua Xiong, MD, knew from the beginning of her medical career that she wanted to be able to provide the specialized care that women’s health requires. As a new physician practicing in the Los Angeles area, she was able to do just that.
“Women’s health has long been a passion of mine and in Southern California, I was able to specialize and see only women,” explains Dr. Xiong. “However, over time I realized that I really missed treating children and men, too. But in a big city like Los Angeles, that just wasn’t possible.”
Dr. Xiong and her husband – also a physician, specializing in pathology – set out to find the perfect spot to put down roots for both their medical practices and their family.
They landed in western Nevada County — a spot that was actually quite familiar.
“My in-laws live in Nevada City and so we have visited frequently,” says Dr. Xiong. “We really enjoy this area.”
With two young children, settling close to family made perfect sense for Dr. Xiong. And the small, close-knit community brought some professional benefits as well. “Here, I am able to have the type of practice I want, caring for not only women, but also kids and men, too. I truly treat the whole family, from birth through hospice.”
Still, Dr. Xiong continues to have a passion for women’s health. She says because women are often the caregivers in their families, their own health often gets overlooked. She wants to help change that.
“I work with my patients to ensure that they are getting the preventive care they need for their age and their risk factors. And I also work with them to address any concerns or symptoms they’re experiencing.”
One age group that Dr. Xiong sees often at her new practice are women who are “post-menopausal,” meaning at least a year has passed since their last period.
For many women, the years before menopause can feel never-ending, with an array of symptoms and side effects that can be surprising, inconvenient and unpleasant. Finally reaching menopause can feel like a welcome finish line.
However, Dr. Xiong explains that health concerns don’t simply cease just because your body’s is no longer having a period. One common concern she sees in her post-menopausal patients is vaginal bleeding.
“I see women in my practice experiencing symptoms like vaginal bleeding and they wonder what’s going on,” explains Dr. Xiong. “It’s important for women to talk to their doctor about vaginal bleeding because we need to find out the reason behind it.”
Dr. Xiong says about 10 percent of women will experience bleeding more than a year after their last period. She says its important to determine if the bleeding is truly vaginal, or if it could be something else like a hemorrhoid or fissure. To do this, she will conduct a physical exam and medical history.
“For post-menopausal women with vaginal bleeding, the cause is usually either vaginal dryness or a polyp inside the uterus,” explains Dr. Xiong. “For those women, we have a variety of treatment options, beginning with ‘watchful waiting’ to see if the problem worsens or we may prescribe a localized estrogen cream which will address the dryness causing the bleeding.”
Only about 10 percent of post-menopausal bleeding is due to endometrial cancer. If there is concern, Dr. Xiong may recommend a trans-vaginal ultrasound or biopsy to rule out cancer.
Another issue that Dr. Xiong discusses with women in this age group is smoking history.
“I find that many older women smoked before we knew about the health concerns associated with smoking,” she explains. “They often say that they smoked decades ago and quit when they had kids. What they don’t realize is that smoking at any point in your life is a risk factor for lung cancer. We recommend a preventive chest CT scan for anyone who previously smoked.”
Other preventive tests Dr. Xiong discusses with her female patients include annual pap smears (which can be discontinued after age 65 if the patient never had an abnormal pap smear); mammograms and colonoscopies, with the frequency of those tests determined by personal risk factors and medical history.
Of course, Dr. Xiong also encourages her female patients to prioritize their own health – eating healthy, exercising often and getting plenty of sleep at night.
Personally, Dr. Xiong looks forward to meeting more members of the community and building her practice with not just women, but men and children as well. She’s happy to be putting down roots both professionally and personally. And she’s not sad to have said goodbye to one staple of Southern California life.
“Traffic! We were so done with LA traffic,” she says with a laugh.
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