Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 38
 
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton



WOMEN’S HEALTH: “I enjoy having feedback from patients. Someone may have waited a long time to come for help, and then they tell me what a difference it has made in her life. This is very rewarding for me.” Dr. Maria Sophocles of Women’s Healthcare of Princeton, focuses her practice on adult and adolescent gynecology.

Women’s Healthcare of Princeton Opens New Office Focusing on Adult and Adolescent Gynecology

Growing up in a Philadelphia suburb, Maria Sophocles wanted to be a doctor. “I always thought about it,” she explains. “My uncles were doctors, and I loved the idea. First, I wanted to be a cardiologist, but then I found I liked surgery. It was more active than passive. And, I liked obstetrics and gynecology (ob/gyn).”

After graduating from Duke University with a triple major in English, French, and biology, she went to Jefferson Medical College, followed by a residency in ob/gyn at Johns-Hopkins. She is board-certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

During her residency, she focused on general ob/gyn, but there was also a great deal of emphasis on laparoscopic surgical training and urogynecology (female urology, evaluating and treating incontinence).

After her residency, she married in 1995, and traveled to Africa, where she assisted indigent people with medical help.

Loving Learning

Returning to the U.S., she worked in two private practices near Philadelphia, and then in 2001, her husband’s work took the couple, now with three children, to Switzerland. While there, she was able to work in an NIH research program to detect abnormalities in fetal DNA in maternal blood at the University of Basel, where she was also appointed assistant professor.

In 2003, the family moved again, this time to Italy. “We lived on Lake Como, and it was a wonderful experience,” recalls Dr. Sophocles. “I wasn’t able to practice there because of the regulations, and I became a travel writer, and also learned to speak Italian. I love learning, and I had earlier studied at the University of Paris, and was there for three years.”

Coming back to the U.S. in 2007, Dr. Sophocles re-certified her medical credentials since she had been out of the country for an extended time. “I studied hard for six months — the Princeton Public Library became my best friend!” she recalls.

Passing with flying colors, she obtained privileges at the University Medical Center of Princeton, and decided to open her own practice. “Women of any age want a physician they can trust,” she points out. “I spend time with my patients so they can share intimate issues and complex problems.”

Minimally Invasive

Dr. Sophocles’ practice, recently moved to 800 Bunn Drive, focuses on adult and adolescent gynecology. It includes regular gynecological exams, treatment and management of menopausal issues, sexual counseling, and both minimally invasive surgery and major gynecological surgery. Patients are anywhere from pre-teens to women 80 and 90 years old.

“The single most common patient is the menopausal patient,” says Dr. Sophocles. “There are many treatments for menopausal problems, including alternatives to hysterectomies and hormone therapy. For example, there are in-office procedures that can stop excessive bleeding. There are minimally-invasive procedures now that are so helpful.”

Lowest Dose

“Hormone therapy is appropriate for some women for control of menopausal symptoms,” she continues. “Of course, you start with the lowest dose. But there are non-hormonal medications now, alternative, and complementary medicine. We are more aware today of alternative medicine.”

Pediatric and adolescent gynecology is an important focus of her practice as well. “We are a resource for adolescents.” explains Dr. Sophocles. “It’s important for girls between 13 and 15 to come in for a meeting — not to have an exam, but for a conversation about questions they may have regarding body changes, menstrual issues, and sexuality. Adolescent gynecology addresses behavioral health risks common among teens, such as sexual activity, birth control methods, poor eating habits, among others. We provide information and guidance on puberty development and sex education, including prevention of pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases.”

Sexual counseling for adults is another part of Dr. Sophocles’ practice, and she also lectures on sexuality to doctors throughout the country.

Part of the therapy for sexual dysfunction involves “bibliotherapy”, using books to stimulate sexual interest. This has been very successful with many women who prefer therapeutic approaches which are progressive and don’t require medication or surgery, explains Dr. Sophocles.

She is very pleased with the way her practice has developed and also with her association with other physicians. “My patients are wonderful people, and I look forward to developing an interactive and progressive practice in which other health care and medical specialists will be available here, and we will be better able to treat a broad array of women‘s issues.”

Dr. Sophocles sees patients Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (609) 430-1900. Website: Princetongyn.com.

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