"Many women are unaware that help is available for these uncomfortable and frequently disabling conditions. Although these conditions are often not spoken about, many women are afflicted with them and unaware that valid diagnostic and treatment options exist."
Dr. Deborah L. Myers of North Kingstown was recently named vice chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Women & Infants Hospital. Director of the hospital’s Division of Urogynecology and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery, and a professor at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, she is a recognized expert in the field of female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. She spoke to PBN about her new role and work.
PBN: As the new vice chair of Women & Infants Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, what will be your new duties and role?
MYERS: In this new role, I will be assisting our chair, Dr. Maureen Phipps, in the academic and administrative oversight of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, including clinical, educational and research efforts. This includes supporting the department, hospital and medical school missions, goals, policies, programs; enhancing community/outreach relations; development of academic faculty; strategic planning; working collaboratively with community faculty; and assisting the chair in coordinating educational resources across the department.
PBN: What excites you these days about being in the field of women’s health?
MYERS: This is a very exciting time to be in women’s health. Being part of the of Women & Infants Hospital and Care New England leadership team affords me a wonderful opportunity to promote and advance women’s health. We are on the forefront of gender-specific health care, and of determining how health conditions are diagnosed, treated and managed specifically for women.
PBN: From your experience as a nationally recognized expert in the treatment of pelvic disorders in women, what percentage of women suffer from these problems?
MYERS: With the increasing aging population, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that by the year 2030, the population over age 65 will double to more than 70 million in the U.S. alone, and more than one billion worldwide. It is estimated that approximately one-third of women will experience at least one disorder of the pelvic floor in her lifetime. Pelvic floor disorders includes urinary incontinence, fecal/ anal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. Other related symptoms and conditions which frequently accompany PFD are sensory and emptying abnormalities of the lower urinary tract and bowel, pelvic and abdominal pain, musculo-skeletal dysfunction of the pelvic muscles/ ligaments, and constipation and diarrheal states. It is estimated that one third of women will experience at least one of these disorders in her lifetime. Anywhere from 13-30 perfect of women will have complaints of one or more of these disorders.
PBN:Should more women seek medical assistance for their pelvic disorders and, if they are not, why aren’t they?
MYERS: Yes. Many women are unaware that help is available for these uncomfortable and frequently disabling conditions. Although these conditions are often not spoken about, many women are afflicted with them and unaware that valid diagnostic and treatment options exist. Often these conditions are thought to occur only in “older” women, but in fact, any woman may unexpectedly experience these kinds of difficulties.
PBN: I see that Women & Infants is part of the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network. How will that benefit the women of our area?
MYERS: Women & Infants was selected by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to participate in the national Pelvic Floor Disorders Network (PFDN). Women & Infants is one of just eight medical centers from across the US, and the only one in the Northeast, to work collaboratively to develop and perform research studies related to women with pelvic floor disorders. Participating in such high-level, national research will offer us the opportunity to test and refine the most appropriate treatment protocols for women for generations to come.