Many of you have inquired about how I spent my time during my 4-month hiatus this year. Most of it was spent readying my new office and cutting through the red tape associated with "starting" a medical practice, but I did carve out some time for continuing medical education. I spent one week shadowing Dr. Libby Edwards, an extraordinary dermatologist with special expertise in vulvar (external female genital) disease. She graciously hosted me in her North Carolina office, and shared with me her decades of experience in this underserved field. I learned a great deal from her. Patients with lichen sclerosus (LS), an under-reported vulvar disease, comprised the majority of the population in her office that week. This autoimmune disease can cause itching, scarring, sexual dysfunction, and is even on occasion associated with vulvar skin cancers. While I have treated my fair share of male and female LS patients over the years, I am eager to put into practice the pearls I learned during my time with Dr. Edwards.
I was delighted to see that Jane Brody (a favorite NYT columnist of mine) highlighted this issue in her health column this month: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/12/well/live/a-little-known-skin-disease-that-can-disrupt-peoples-sex-lives.html?smid=nytcore-ios-share
Many of the women who shared their stories in response to the column expressed frustration about obtaining good care in addressing their vulvar issues. I hope you will all feel comfortable in partnering with me to address ALL your skin issues, no matter where they are. You have no doubt seen the signs posted in my examining rooms, which implore my patients not to be modest! Ideally, patients should be able to express concerns freely, and physicians should be able to examine patients thoroughly to address those concerns. I hope the environment here supports that ideal.