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Women's Health: New Treatment Options Can Provide Quick Relief for Common Problems

May 01, 2012

Many women believe they simply have to tolerate such unpleasant experiences as heavy periods, reduced bladder control, or prolapse (when pelvic organs slip out of place). Not so, according to Dr. Scott Kramer, a gynecologist with Washington Township Medical Foundation (WTMF).

"Women need to be aware they don't have to endure many of these conditions," he says. "They may falsely believe that it is an unavoidable consequence of childbirth or aging. Their mothers may have said it's something they just have to live with. But a lot of women could improve their quality of life if they only knew about the many safe, quick, cost-effective treatment options available."

He notes, for example, that one in six women over 40 experiences stress incontinence (urinating when they sneeze, cough or exercise). Up to 90 percent could alleviate the condition with a 10-minute outpatient procedure and just a few days of recovery.

"Afterwards I often hear, 'Why didn't I do this sooner? If I'd only known,'" Dr. Kramer says.

The same is true for common menstrual cycle problems such as heavy bleeding or debilitating cramps, which affect one in five women at some point.

"Women often suffer needlessly. They are unaware we have many options, medical and surgical, that offer relief from this monthly hardship." Certain types of birth control or a 90-second office treatment dramatically improves the situation, restoring freedom to participate in normal activities during menstruation, according to Dr. Kramer.

The Bay Area native is one of the more senior physicians at Washington Township Medical Foundation, part of Washington Hospital Healthcare System. Several WTMF locations in Fremont, Newark and Union City offer services ranging from primary and urgent care to neurosurgery.

Focus on Women's Health

As a member of WTMF's Women's Health Specialists, his commitment to women's health starts with preventive services such as education and wellness exams. It includes treatment and counseling for issues ranging from contraceptive choices to menopause.

"A woman has different health needs, depending on her age, stage in life and medical history," explains Dr. Kramer, whose patients range from puberty to post-menopausal.

With expertise in minimally invasive surgery, he can offer a continuum of comprehensive care - including procedures that can be comfortably performed in his office. Patients frequently prefer this alternative over a stressful trip to an operating room. His wife, for example, resisted a minor surgical procedure until she learned she could remedy her heavy periods during an office visit. "The treatments are quick and typically cost less than going to an operating room."

"Many doctors insist on doing all their procedures in the operating room," he continues. "They may not offer the option of in-office procedures or laparoscopic surgery. Perhaps they haven't made the investment in equipment. Perhaps they don't have the advanced skills to perform the latest minimally invasive procedures."

For decades, the standard approach for many gynecologic surgeries involved not only an operating room, but also a large abdominal incision. Minimally invasive surgery, on the other hand, uses incisions of less than an inch. The benefits, Dr. Kramer points out, extend well beyond minimal scarring. Patients typically heal faster, experience far less discomfort and have a much shorter recovery period.

Effective Communication is Key to Optimal Care

Dr. Kramer notes women are often unaware of various treatment alternatives due to insufficient discussion between the patient and her physician.

"Women are sometimes reluctant or embarrassed to bring up a concern," he says. "They should know that when you confide in your OB/GYN, there is often a remedy available."

He believes in empowering his patients - first by educating them about their condition and treatment options, then by giving them sufficient time to feel comfortable with their decisions.

"I'm like a waiter. I discuss the 'menu' of treatment choices available. A woman needs to hear about all her options, not just the one her doctor prefers. Then she's in the best position to decide what she wants. Personalized care is a partnership, but ultimately the decision must be hers. After all, she is the one who will live with her choice."

Women's Health Week

With National Women's Health Week coming up May 13-19, Dr. Kramer encourages women to contact their gynecologist or primary care physician to schedule routine screenings and explore treatment options for any problems they may be experiencing.

"There simply is no reason for women to suffer from easily treated conditions," Dr. Kramer asserts.

Your health care, your way

For more information about Washington Township Medical Foundation and its more than 60 board-certified physicians with expertise in a broad range of medical specialties-from neurosurgery to pediatrics-visit www.mywtmf.com.