How Gynecology Research Is Improving Women’s Health: An Inside the NICHD Video


[MUSIC] DR. LISA HALVORSON:
What we can do in this Branch is really
promote research that’s going to give us insight into gynecologic diseases and hopefully, then,
insight into their prevention or treatment. In many ways, I think what we see in this country
is that it is women’s understanding of their own bodies, their comfort in talking about
it and their ability to access good G-Y-N care; much of that really stands in the way of women’s
health care. So my hope is that my Branch can give them the best possible options. Our mission is really quite broad, then; it’s really
to address an array of gynecologic disorders— just to name a few: fibroids, endometriosis, irregular menstrual cycles, chronic pelvic
pain, vulvodynia, pelvic floor disorders—and really to address them throughout the reproductive
life span, starting at adolescence and going right on through to the perimenopause/early
menopausal period. And again, we have a lot of interactions with other Branches that have
addressed these issues in the past and are interested, for example, in the fertility aspects
or the contraception aspects or the social aspects. But our focus is on those studies that look
at these disorders outside of those needs. So we have a lot of areas of emphasis, which
keeps my days very full. We certainly want to continue some of our real high-priority,
high-profile areas. It includes a training grant—the WRHR grant; a Pelvic Floor Disorders
Network as well as an emphasis on vulvodynia. And these are all areas that we have new grant
applications that are coming in as we speak and certainly want to continue those efforts. But as a new Branch, we also want to build
new directions, particularly in some of the cutting-edge technologies, in genomics
and epigenomics. So there will be an emphasis on that. I also think we need to look at more
multidisciplinary approaches to chronic gynecologic pain conditions. We’d like to see more small business grants
in the area of G-Y-N. There are a lot of technologies coming out that really, I think, could be
effectively applied to a lot of these conditions and I’d like to encourage
those kinds of collaborations. I think there are some medications coming
out that are going to be useful in the treatments of endometriosis or fibroids, as examples.
There are definitely some diagnostic approaches for pelvic organ prolapse—ultrasound as well
as some nonradiologic approaches. There are some neural
stimulation approaches being used for incontinence procedures, and a lot of these technologies, I think, could make a very nice
mix—academic/small business mix— to really move them forward. So National Women’s Health Week, I think,
actually blends perfectly with the mission of the Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch. That is, we want women to be healthy. And
what does that require? It’s a lot of things that we all know about but don’t really
do as well as we could. Eat well, keep our weight down, exercise, quit smoking if we
smoke, and go see our healthcare provider, whether that be a gynecologist, internist,
family practice physician—make sure that we’re up to date on our vaccines,
on any routine testing that we need— just broadly, good health care is
good gynecologic health care also.

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