Our Mission and Values
Our mission is to lessen patients’ suffering through improved medical education about vulvovaginal disorders.
Our vision is to reach the day when those with vulvovaginal complaints can approach the medical community with confidence that their needs will be met.
For too long, the topic of vulvovaginal health has been kept “under wraps.” Medical education programs do not prioritize the subject. Clinicians feel ill prepared to cope with unfamiliar conditions. Women hesitate to ask for help, worried that their concerns will be swept aside. Insurance companies reimburse for what to them is merely “vaginitis.” The solution lies with education.
This learning program, informed by years of clinical practice and the best available medical evidence, provides clinicians with practical guidance and systematic methods for the diagnosis and treatment of vulvovaginal disorders.
The program is broad and deep, sensitive to the emotional and physical impacts associated with vulvovaginal disorders.
Our guest editors, Board certified in their fields, have a deep interest in helping women with vulvovaginal problems. All have initiated or work in vulvovaginal specialty practices and have a keen interest in promoting professional education on this topic. This has been their motivation for volunteering to update sections of this website.
- Deborah Bartholomew, M.D. Professor of OBGYN at The Ohio State University, Wexler Medical Center, Board Certified in OBGYN and Anatomic Pathology. Columbus, Ohio, USA.
- Amy Boardman, M.D. Associate Professor and Residency Program Director of the OBGYN Department at Atrium Health, affiliated with Wake-Forest School of Medicine, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.
- Elizabeth Buechler, M.D., FACOG. Former Chief of OBGYN at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates/Atrius Health in Boston, now working with Volunteers in Medicine and residents at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.
- Carla Carpenter, O.D., FACOG. OBGYN at West Suburban Women’s Health in Willowbrook, Illinois, USA.
- Carol Cohen, MSN, RN, WHNP-BC. Department of Gynecology, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
- Beth Goldbaum, M.D., OBGYN and Director, Vulvovaginal Service, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, Atrius Health. Burlington, Massachusetts, USA.
- Dee Hartman, PT, DPT. Pelvic floor physical therapist, co-author of The Pleasure Prescription and founder of Vulva Love: Sex Ed for Vibrant Sexuality and Empowered Pleasure. Chicago, Illinois, USA.
- Cheryl Kinney, M.D. OBGYN at Center for Female Health and Hormone Disorders, NAMS certified Menopause Practitioner. Dallas, Texas, USA.
- Deborah Lipkin, MSN, RN, FNP. Family Nurse Practitioner at Student Health Services, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
- Sara McKinney, M.D. OBGYN and Director of Vulvovaginal Service, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
- Claudia Kraus Piper, MSW, Psychotherapist and Sex Therapist, University of Michigan and private practice. Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
- Cynthia Rasmussen, M.D. OBGYN, former Director Vulvovaginal Service, Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates/Atrius Health, Burlington, Massachusetts, USA.
- Cara Berg Raunick, RN, DNP. Nurse Practitioner. Director of Clinical Quality and Advancement at Health Care Education & Training, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
- Marcie Richardson, M.D. OBGYN, NAMS certified Menopause Clinician, and Director of Menopause Consultation Service at Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates/Atrius Health and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
- Leslie Sadownik, M.Ed., M.D. Associate Professor of OBGYN and Associate in Department of Dermatology, Director Emerita of Centre for Vulvar Health at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
- Amanda Selk, M.D., M.Sc. OBGYN and Coordinator of Vulvar Gynecology-Dermatology Clinic, and Fellowship Director for Vulvovaginal Conditions Fellowship at University of Toronto. President of the North American Chapter of the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD) and the Society of Canadian Colposcopists. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
- Amy Stenson, M.D. M.P.H. Associate Professor of OBGYN School of Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon, USA.
- Kristen Stewart, M.D. Dermatologist at Total Dermatology Care Center in Jacksonville, Florida, USA.
- Kelly Tyler, M.D. Board certified in both Dermatology and OBGYN. Associate Professor of Dermatology at The Ohio State University, Wexler Medical Center. Columbus, Ohio, USA.
All four of the original authors, in the course of practicing Ob Gyn or Dermatology, saw patients with problems we could not solve pain, dyspareunia, or intractable itching we could not fix, and other conditions that went beyond STIs and the trio traditionally taught: bacterial vaginosis, yeast infection, trichomoniasis. Without much evidence in the literature, we learned what we could, apprenticing with those who knew more than we did, each becoming committed to not giving up on the women who had shuttled from clinician to clinician trying to find answers and relief.
We gained some valuable experience and successes in helping women, who told us, “You didn’t just help me, you saved my life!” We became determined to share what we had learned, to fill in the blanks for practitioners in the insufficient vulvovaginal medical educational system.
We conceived the idea of a diagnostic algorithm which would specify the steps we took in clinical practice. That algorithm expanded, over the years, into this website. Early funding for website came from Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, the Board of Atrius Health Foundation, and from the generous donations of patients and their families. Subsequent support has come from our fiscal sponsor Our Bodies Ourselves and The Vagina Collective.
Gender & Sexual Identity
We honor the changing perceptions of gender and sexual orientation, whether cisgender or LGBTQIA2S+. In this website, which is based on an understanding of basic vulvovaginal health, we use the terms woman, women or patients as they have been used in studies or in practice. We encourage the reader to consider the specific counseling and treatment needs of transgender and gender diverse individuals.