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New weekly clinic focuses on vulvar, vaginal disorders

Nov. 3, 2016, 8:50 AM

Vanderbilt University Medical Center’s (VUMC) Center for Women’s Health has launched a new clinic with the opening of the Center for Vulvar and Vaginal Disorders.

The newly named clinic, which opened in September, is attracting not only local patients, but has a statewide draw as well as appealing to women from out of state.

“Women are finding us on social media, through word of mouth and from reading blogs posted by other patients,” said Melinda New, M.D., associate professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. “There has been a wide spectrum of patients and concerns, and our clinic is addressing an unmet need.”

New, along with nurse practitioner Lisa Milam, operates the weekly half-day clinic from two Vanderbilt locations — Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks and Cool Springs. Vanderbilt has not had a concentrated clinic addressing these issues since 2013.

New and Milam discovered a growing need for the specialized care as they operated their gynecology practices. The pair pooled resources and obtained additional training to develop a specialty level clinic aimed at the following concerns:

• Vaginal or vulvar cysts, boils, bumps, ulcers
• Recurrent vaginitis
• Vaginal and vulvar pain
• Vulvar itching
• Vulvar dermatoses: lichen sclerosis, lichen planus, vulvar Crohn’s, vulvar and vaginal atrophy
• Vulvar and vaginal changes related to menopause
• Vaginal and vulvar dysplasia (pre-cancer)

“These chronic disorders can be really frustrating, sometimes debilitating, and can dramatically affect a woman’s quality of life and sexual relationships,” said Milam. “Many patients have experienced symptoms for years and tried various treatment options without success.

“We saw a need to create a comprehensive program to address these issues. Often a diagnosis is not quick, which is why it is so important that our clinic offers a compassionate and caring environment to meet each woman’s individual needs.”

Both providers say most patients have dealt with a variety of symptoms for years and can often be misdiagnosed. It is one of the reasons the pair want to explore the research arm — working on treatment protocols to develop evidence-based therapies.

“We want to provide excellent care to women with complaints that are generally under-recognized and under-treated,” said New. “Our patients have seen multiple providers and they need coordinated, specialty care. Above all, we want to take really good care of our patients and work with them to get some relief.”

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