Top Doctors: Q&A Mihalov (Gynecology)

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Linda Mihalov, M.D.
Specialty: Gynecology
Practice: Virginia Mason Medical Center
Education: University of Illinois, 1980
Hospital affiliation: Virginia Mason Medical Center
You may not know: “Many women are afraid to take hormone therapy, but could benefit from it. It’s a good option for some women, and they may be needlessly depriving themselves.”

Why did you choose this specialty?
I was influenced by the women’s movement in the 1970s and saw specializing in women’s health care as a way to support women and empower them to understand more about their own bodies.

You have a special interest in menopause. How big a part of your practice is dedicated to this?
About 10 percent. Early in my career I was involved in menopause research projects that led me to join the North American Menopause Society. I continue to keep myself updated with the vast amount of research taking place in this field.

Is there anything in particular in this field that has captured your attention?
The field of menopause research is expanding rapidly, and the most exciting aspects for me are new treatments that provide the benefits of estrogen without potential risks. I am also interested in research that follows women who need long-term estrogen treatment for relief of symptoms.

What are women most concerned about regarding menopause?
I think women are concerned about getting old quickly, having symptoms that are disruptive and about their sex lives being over. They are also concerned that if they need hormone therapy, they will get breast cancer.

What big breakthrough in menopause research is on the horizon?
The most exciting aspects are the developments of medications that target reducing the risk and enhancing the benefits of taking the medication. For example, there’s a lot of research taking place on how to provide patients the benefits of estrogen without the progesterone exposure.

What impact will the baby boomers have in the way menopause is viewed?
[One way] baby-boomer-age women are making a difference is in the focus on satisfying sex lives. Our mothers’ generation didn’t discuss it, but now women want to maintain that aspect of our relationships. There are products that are very safe and can be quite helpful, but that many women don’t learn about. Increasing knowledge of the sexual-response cycle in women can also be illuminating.

If you could change one behavior of your patients, what would it be?
I wish women would be more careful about what they read on the Internet and what information they believe. There is a lot of great information available, but there is also a lot of misleading information, frequently [given] by people who are trying to sell something.

What’s the most fun you’ve had lately?
Watching my son compete in the Experience Music Project’s Battle of Bands and winning! Also, my husband is a pilot, and we go flying in a small plane; there are so many beautiful areas to fly over in Seattle. 

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