Women’s health: Doctor believes connection with patients can have big impact (sponsored)
Special to The Union
Know the signs
Symptoms a woman should share with her doctor:
— Pelvic pain
— Bleeding between periods
— Problem periods or missed periods
— Heavy menstrual bleeding
— Unusual discharge
— Pain during intercourse
— Problems with urination
Dr. Sarah McKenzie always knew she wanted to pursue a career in medicine, but her chosen specialty came as a bit of a surprise to her.
“My mom is a Nurse Practitioner and my dad is a retired Internal Medicine doctor,” she explained. “Medicine is in my blood. I really thought I would pursue psychiatry.”
However, while in medical school at Rocky Vista University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Colorado, she found herself called toward obstetrics and gynecology.
“Something about helping women at every stage of their life really spoke to me,” said McKenzie. “I found myself identifying with female patients. I discovered that it is incredibly satisfying to be able to provide care to other women and help them lead healthy lives.”
McKenzie is bringing her passion for women’s health to Nevada County, joining Dignity Health Medical Group Sierra Nevada. She is the group’s second OB/GYN.
McKenzie says she felt called to the area not only by the offerings of the region’s landscape but also by the openness of the community.
“My husband and I were originally drawn to the area’s outdoor sports — hiking, skiing, fishing — but once we visited I found that I connected to the community as well. I’m excited to be in a smaller town where I will have the opportunity to really get to know my patients and make connections. It fits my style as a physician.”
With the birth of her daughter Savannah earlier this year, McKenzie has found herself with a new sense of empathy and understanding for her obstetric patients.
“I relate to my pregnant patients on a whole new level now. I know what labor is like. I understand some of the common post-partum challenges. Having my own baby really impacted how I see obstetric care.”
While McKenzie says delivering babies “will never get old,” she says she has a special interest in gynecological care, too.
“In my experience, many women feel like their doctor doesn’t listen. I find that when a doctor truly listens, they can better connect with their patient and better help their patient take the steps they need to lead a healthy and fulfilling life.”
Among the symptoms McKenzie sees in her gynecology patients regularly are incontinence, menstrual cycle pain or irregularity, and unusual pelvic pain or bleeding.
Sometimes the solution can be as easy as lifestyle changes, behavior modifications, or medication. For other conditions like incontinence, a simple in-office procedure can provide relief.
If a patient should need a more advanced treatment like a hysterectomy, McKenzie performs three different types (total, laparoscopic and vaginal) depending on each patient’s specific needs.
Regardless of a woman’s symptoms, McKenzie says the first step toward relief is going to see the doctor. “So many women think what they are experiencing is normal or think that they just need to live with it. I encourage all women — see your doctor regularly and talk to him or her about your concerns!”
The National Women’s Health Information Center recommends women write down their questions and concerns prior to any appointment with their doctor. If the appointment involves particular symptoms the woman is experiencing, she should be prepared to describe the symptoms, including when they started, what triggers them, and what has provided relief.
Being truthful about one’s medical history, including diet, physical activity, sexual history and alcohol and drug use, is also critical. The NWHIC points out that withholding information from a doctor or nurse is not only not helpful but could be dangerous.
“Talk to your doctor openly and honestly,” McKenzie said. “By sharing your symptoms and your history, you can help your doctor find a treatment option that can help you.”
McKenzie hopes to empower women to take control of their health and their quality of life. “Many women will write off symptoms as just being a part of being a woman and often, that symptom is a sign of something that can be treated. There are so many treatment options available for so many different conditions. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.”
All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.
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