Doctor Spotlight: Blair Washington, M.D.

Dr. Blair Washington, photographed at Virginia Mason Medical Center on May 17, 2013

Specialty: Urogynecology
Hospital affiliation: Virginia Mason Medical Center

Why did you choose to specialize in urogynecology?
I’ve always had a big interest in women’s health issues and learned in medical school that I loved surgery—urogynecology is the perfect blend of those two interests.  

I’ve read that 30 percent of women ages 65 and older suffer from pelvic floor disorders (most commonly urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse), yet many won’t talk about it or seek treatment.
I had a patient in my office today who was literally in tears because of the symptoms she was experiencing and feeling like she was totally alone in this. Right now, less than 50 percent of women with symptoms of pelvic floor disorders will seek treatment. Twenty percent of the population will be over 65 by 2030 and what are big problems right now will be huge problems in the future. I really want to educate women that this is not only a common problem, but that there are also great treatment options out there, both surgical and nonsurgical.

What is the one piece of advice you wish all of your patients would follow?
For all women: Do your Kegels! And talk about it! Talk to your friends and neighbors so that there is less of a stigma attached to the issue and that it is better understood. Together we can work through problems and identify solutions.

What is the best recent news for women suffering from pelvic floor disorders?
More than any other time in history, we have people who have the knowledge and skills to deal with these issues, and we have a workforce of experts that are able to provide a superior level of care.

What is the most challenging case you’ve experienced?
Obviously, every patient presents a unique set of challenges. Some of the most complicated cases I’ve seen are those involving vaginal mesh, a synthetic material implanted in the vagina to support the pelvic organs. Removing mesh and restoring function is often challenging. Although some patients do well with these repairs, I am referred a lot of patients who are suffering from the detrimental complications of these surgeries.

What’s your favorite part of your day?
On an average day, it is seeing my post-op patients and hearing they’re engaged in activities, like tennis or golf, that they didn’t have the confidence to participate in before they received care.

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