MK: Hello, I am Dr Michael Krychman. I’m here at the North American Menopause Society Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, and I’m delighted to be joined by Dr. Brooke Faught. She is a nurse practitioner and director of the WISH Institute. Can you tell us a bit about it? I know you’re in Nashville.
Women’s Institute for Sexual Health
BF: I’m in Nashville and started the practice in 2005. It’s the Women’s Institute for Sexual Health, [and] it is a division of Urology Associates. And a lot of people say, “Why would you want to set up a women’s clinic in a urology practice? ” And the reason is that when we think of urology, we often think of erectile dysfunction, we think of premature ejaculation. But there are also bladder problems, kidney stones, hormonal problems.
And it’s not just for men, women have experienced all of these same issues as well. So I was led, essentially, to start this practice and to better extend services to women. What we do know is that more women in the United States are complaining about sexual health issues, and certainly urogynecological issues, than we see in the male population, so this is what I’m doing in my practice.
MK: So I’m really excited to see you in person. Haven’t seen you for a long time, and it’s really nice to be here at a conference in person. I think you earn a little more. Tell me what you think of these virtual conferences. Why travel? You know, traveling is a challenge, but what are the benefits of being here in person besides catching up with me?
BF: Well, that’s the number one benefit. You know it’s funny, I used to complain about traveling, and now I’m like, “Oh, thank goodness I have to wait at an airport.” For me, I have noticed that with virtual conferences, when I am so grateful to have a backup opportunity […] to acquire our continuing education and keep abreast of the latest research, it is so easy during a virtual session or a virtual conference […] at home, and you are surrounded by all these things that you have to do, […] get distracted and say, “Oh, I’ll watch this later.” Do we ever watch it later? No. […]
For me, the most important thing is collaboration. Just networking with my colleagues. And often, those of us who are in some sort of sub-specialty, so few of us do that, it’s nice to be able to see each other a few times a year. And you just don’t get the same people-to-people connection when using a computer or over the phone.
MK: Yes, and sometimes having those sideways chats with your coworker, switching between sessions, is the best, and the pearls you don’t really get at home. You turn off your camera and check your email, take care of the kids, or do other things at the same time.
I think we’re sort of here to stay. There will be in person [meetings], maybe a little less in terms of numbers and virtuality and it will be kind of a hybrid, a bit like the development of telemedicine.
Highlights from the NAMS Planning Committee
I know that recently you attended a session here at NAMS. You were the moderator. Highlights or take-away messages? Tell us a bit about that.
BF: I was on the planning committee for the conference, which is really exciting. I was really excited to bring a more holistic perspective on the impact of COVID on women. You know, I’m a women’s health nurse practitioner, and the nurse practitioner training incorporates that mind-body approach. So when we think of seeing patients in clinical settings, I constantly think of putting all of these pieces together.
I have this wonderful colleague with whom I worked, her name is Vikki Pedigo. She is also a nurse practitioner in women’s health. She’s also, I think, a certified health coach, and she has some integrative health coaching diplomas and certifications. So she gave a very good talk that I had the chance to moderate, in addition to Dr Gloria Bachmann, whom you also interviewed.
Vikki’s talk focused more on the overall psychosocial impacts of COVID and the experience on women. […] Then when we break down the impact on different ethnic groups and subsets of women, this [showed] the different aspects of how this impacted women’s emotional and psychological health, our habits and actions, and our ability to function and work.
It was really deep. Then she gave some really good information as a healthcare provider that might seem super simplistic, but it was actionable, we can implement it in our own clinical practice. […]
Have conversations about trauma with patients
One of the takeaways for me was [that] Sometimes if a patient has experienced significant trauma, and the trauma can be very small or large, we often think of the trauma as being hit by a truck or having a horrible history of pedophilia, but it can also be. be as simple as sex painful or you lost your job or, things that are deep, but they don’t necessarily endanger your life.
And any kind of trauma. If you strike up a conversation with someone and start to relieve the experience of that trauma, and you’re not equipped to deal with it at the time, you may actually be doing more harm. So her advice was to make sure you recognize the conversations you are having with people.
If you feel like you are entering an area where this patient is bringing up traumatic events, and you are not in an area to deal with it at this point or to refer properly, acknowledge but also divert the conversation and imagine finding a way to manage it better in the future and letting them know it’s not necessarily the best location.
MK: Law. And, we are seeing a lot of changes in sexual health. We see changes in desire mismatch, we even see erectile dysfunction linked to COVID, low libido, [and] regarding the increase in domestic violence. I think when you think of trauma you think of negative issues.
I know, and you know, we’ve been traveling a lot, and then all of a sudden nothing was done. It’s really impactful. These are life changes that really impact us and [have] far-reaching implications, sometimes too much of a good thing. It’s not a good thing, being home all the time doesn’t give you that tampon.
It’s really important because I really think we’re going from a pandemic to an endemic. Unfortunately, COVID is here. We learn as we go. We’re sort of building the runway as the plane lands. I think it’s really important to know how that affects individuals and everything in between.
Brooke, I really want to thank you for the time you had. I know you are very busy and there are other things going on, but I really appreciate that you took the time to spend a few moments with us and give us some highlights and your perspective. Thank you.