For the evaluation, specialized treatment and follow-up care of gynecologic problems in infants, children, young adolescents and teenage girls, the Washington University Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology at Washington University offers a comprehensive program. This is the only program in St. Louis devoted to pediatric and adolescent gynecology. As such, the Washington University Center for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology has become a major referral center for the Midwest, as well as other states.
Among the young patients cared for by this group of physicians are those experiencing:
- Birth defects involving the reproductive organs
- Heavy, frequent or painful menstrual periods
- Irregular or infrequent menstrual periods
- Signs of early sexual maturation
- Signs of delayed sexual maturation
- Breast abnormalities, including asymmetry or pain
- Chronic genital rashes or itching
- Vaginal discharge, drainage or odor
- Unusual appearance of the genitals
- Abdominal pain
- Ovarian cysts or pelvic masses
- Pelvic endometriosis
- Injuries involving the reproductive organs
Doctors in the Divisions are skilled in the medical evaluation and surgical management and correction of gynecologic disorders in pediatric and adolescent patients.
Testing and surgical services offered include:
- Consultations and re-constructive surgery for birth defects involving the reproductive organs
- Laparoscopy for the evaluation of abdominal masses, pelvic pain and pelvic endometriosis
- Laser surgery
- Vaginoscopy for the removal of foreign objects and assessment of bleeding and injuries
- Colposcopy for the evaluation of abnormal bleeding and abnormal pap smears
For adolescents, the first gynecologic examination provides a golden opportunity to educate young patients about the breast and pelvic exam, to answer questions about development, and to provide medical reassurances and information about issues of health and sexuality. The Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology provides abstinence counseling, as well as contraceptive counseling and pregnancy prevention strategies. Adolescents especially may benefit from counseling about the risks of sexual activity and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.
While the division is focused on preventing unwanted teen pregnancies, it also recognizes the special needs of pregnant teens. The Teen Pregnancy Clinic at Barnes-Jewish Hospital was established by in February 1999 to provide obstetrical services, health education and counseling to pregnant adolescents up to the age of 17.
Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecologists
Division Director Diane F. Merritt, MD
, is considered a national expert in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology with more than three decades of expertise in this field. She is the past president of the North American Society for Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology and the current Chair of the Adolescent Health Committee for the American College of Obstetrics. Dr. Merritt focuses her practice on the care of infants, children and young women from birth through college years.
Dr. Mariel Focseneanu completed her residency training at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Weill Cornell Medical Center and recently began a two year fellowship in Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology.
The Division of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology works in close coordination with referring physicians, as well as with the pediatric specialty groups at St. Louis Children's Hospital
Educational resources are available for patients and their families. A special effort also is made by all physicians and staff to explain tests, treatments and procedures. Patients and their families are encouraged to ask questions.