By Laura Peterson
Springing forth from Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” in 1998, like a Greek Goddess fully fledged and ready for battle, V-Day has become an annual celebration for women to both honor our “V’s” as well as raise awareness of the hardships and tragedies that befall too many of our sisters worldwide. (See City Pulse section for V-Day events around the city)
When it comes to medical care for our “V’s,” (and “U’s” and “O’s”) we do tend to trudge along to our gynecologist like it was a trip to the dentist. (Strange analogy, but it does work!) For all the demands we make in a day, shouldn’t the demand for nurturing support from our gynecologist be towards the top of the list?
Rather than being ushered through your doctor’s office like a patron on a deli line, you could choose to be treated like a welcome guest, or on return visits, a dear friend. Your visits could include in-depth, unrushed chats with a warm and caring doctor, covering all aspects of your health, including physical, mental and spiritual. Your prescription could include a healthy diet, and your treatment could include some uplifting words of wisdom.
Does it sound too good to be true? It’s all true and it’s all available at the office of Dr. Karlene ChinQuee. I had the absolute privilege to interview Dr. ChinQuee recently, to discuss the holistic approach to gynecology. We touched upon a few basic subjects:
Q: What are some of the differences between the conventional approach to gynecology and the holistic approach?
The conventional approach to Gynecology involves diagnosing and treating disease, whereas the holistic approach emphasizes creating a healthy body/mind/spirit which helps prevent disease. The holistic approach also looks to uncover the underlying cause of an illness and uses natural therapies targeted at the root cause. This approach can lead to faster, more complete healing with fewer medical interventions.
Q: How does a holistic gynecologist determine the best birth control method for a patient?
As a holistic gynecologist, determining the birth control method for a patient is through a thorough education of all the available options, the pros and cons of each, followed by a full discussion with the patient of where she is in her life and how much responsibility she is willing to assume over her fertility. It is my experience that when the decision for birth control is approached in this fashion, there is a greater likelihood for compliance as the patient is now a partner in her care. Safe, effective birth control does exist, although failures occur with each, it is important to distinguish between the failure of a birth control method itself and the failure of a woman to use it properly. The best we can do is choose wisely and minimize human error.
Q: How do you approach cases of recurring ovarian cysts?
My first approach always involves education. It is my experience that once a patient understands her diagnosis completely, she becomes an active partner in her care. With recurring problems, like ovarian cysts, I reassure the patient that ovarian cysts are very common in women during their reproductive years. Some types of ovarian cysts are normal and usually harmless, often going away without any treatment. Other cysts are abnormal and may cause problems.
Although most ovarian cysts don’t cause any symptoms, when symptoms do occur there may be a dull ache or a sense of pressure or fullness in the abdomen. Ovarian cysts may cause pain during intercourse or at other times. Delayed, irregular, or unusually painful periods may also be a symptom of ovarian cysts. The patient is informed that if any of these symptoms occur, it is important to inform me.
Q: How do you work with women who are diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease?
In my experience, a diagnosis of a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is a very traumatic event in a women’s life. It is not just the physical aspect and the effect that it may have on her fertility, it is also the emotional aspects involving her relationship to her partner.
If there is one STD discovered, I usually test for others to provide a comprehensive evaluation. I also educate the patient on the particular STD diagnosed and I am very accessible for the patient as is needed. I encourage that the partner also be evaluated and treated as needed. To avoid future STD’s, I recommend use of condoms, being discriminating about sex partners and suggest measures to boost the immune system.
Q: What do you recommend for women who are having difficulties conceiving?
Approximately one in every six to ten couples has problems with infertility. About 60 percent of the problems are related to a female factor and 40 percent to a male factor.
Difficulties in conceiving are never a completely straightforward affair. There are hormonal, nutritional, physical, emotional, and psychological factors at play. I usually recommend that patients become completely informed about exactly what the infertility evaluation entails. I also recommend that the above aspects previously mentioned be thoroughly evaluated. Infertility can profoundly affect a woman on a very deep level and can also put stress on the relationship. In my experience it is very important for the gynecologist to fully educate the patient and be extremely sensitive and compassionate to the needs of the patient/couple.
Q: What have you found to be the biggest benefit in treating women holistically?
As mentioned before, the holistic approach to gynecology is one with a bias towards keeping patients healthy…it is about being well and staying well. One of the biggest benefits in treating women holistically is the satisfaction of helping to empower women to better care for themselves and their families.
With a list of credentials that includes positions of honor in health organizations and numerous television appearances, perhaps the most inspiring piece of Dr. ChinQuee’s biography is the non-profit organization she founded in 2002 called Heartbeats of the World (H.O.W.). With a mission to serve and enrich the lives of women and girls in underserved parts of the world, H.O.W. is exactly the sort of organization we should celebrate on V-Day! For more information on this incredible organization, and to see how you can help, please visit their website at www.howunited.org.
To book an appointment with Dr. Karelen ChinQuee, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., please contact her lovely office assistant, Tanya at 212-861-3130. Dr. ChinQuee’s office is located at 880 Fifth Avenue, at 69th Street, New York, NY.