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Rarely does a 6 year old female, or even a 26 year old female say she wants to be a urologist. At age 6, I wanted to be a brain surgeon and depending on what one views as the brain, I fulfilled that desire. Medical school offered an overwhelming amount of exposure to different systems of the body. While studying medicine, I still struggled to define my future. What was going to keep me interested and excited for the next 40 years? Gosh, I hadn’t even been alive that long. Enter fate and some luck, urology had been preselected for me as a rotation. I quickly discovered a field with variety in patient population, surgical procedures and diagnosis. The pursuit of knowledge became easy and fun. As the old adage goes, it’s not work if you enjoy it and I enjoyed it. Thankfully, I am able to say I still enjoy it 20 years later.
Over the years, I have been able to tailor my patient population to further highlight my areas of interest. While I still see a wide range of patients, I specialize in recurrent UTIs, interstitial cystitis, pelvic pain, prostatitis and erectile dysfunction.
Traditionally these diagnoses have not been given much though other than mainstream prescriptions. Today, thanks to advancements in curiosity and scientific research, we have been able to offer more diagnostics and therapeutics to treat and address these conditions more appropriately.
My schedule appears routine but I promise you, no two patients are ever alike.
It’s 2022, today patients are seen in person and virtually. While there is an obvious need to be objective, the patient story is paramount. To me, the story each patient tells is the most important part of the encounter. I spend equal amounts of my time listening and talking — when I get home I like to have a break from my own voice so good thing I have three small kids to fill that void.
When I am not seeing patients in the clinic, I am up before the sun and off to the hospital for an OR (operating room) day. By nature, I am an early riser so it pays off in this line of work. OR days are never routine. The only thing I plan for is the unexpected, as no two patients are ever alike.
I spend a lot of personal time focusing on the present, but it is exciting to think about the future. Medicine has so many “unchartered areas.” One of my current interests is in the developing knowledge on the gut microbiome. I look forward to research that explores the relationship between the gut microbiome and recurrent UTIs, vaginal bacteria, prostatitis and interstitial cystitis. There are new exciting studies on the effects of the gut microbiome on the body as a whole system. These publications are just the beginning, and I hope these areas of research will lead to alternative therapies and treatment.
I also feel the musculature of the pelvic floor is largely neglected in pelvic health. As urologists, we receive little training on the function and impact of the pelvic floor musculature. For women, there are developing digital therapeutics aimed at assessing the pelvic floor musculature and translating this information into preventative care. I am an advocate for preventative versus reactive care.
UTI management cannot and should not be a come one, come all approach. Each patient carries unique traits that can be contributing to recurrent infections. My first goal is to establish an infection free bladder. Once I can document that objectively, I want to ensure the entire urinary tract is examined with imaging and appropriate diagnostics.
After ensuring the bacteria is cleared, I turn to symptom management. By far the harder task, it is paramount to relieve the patients' symptoms. Comfortable, less symptomatic patients are far more trusting for obvious reasons.
I believe patient education is central to prevention. The more a woman understands the factors that can increase her risk for infection, the easier infections are to prevent.
But, again every patient has different modifiable factors that will help limit infection. I suggest patients investigate and then if needed, modify their diet, water intake, voiding pattern, bowel management, medication, hormone levels, activity and of course supplements or nutraceuticals.
I strongly believe in the body’s natural biome, and therefore, minimize antibiotics whenever possible. Much of what I recommend is non-prescription based.
Seek the advice of an expert. Bouncing from an Urgent Care to a primary care physician back to an ER is exhausting and typically does not yield good results.
Patients need to find a urologist or urogynecologist who specializes in UTI management for treatment, because it does not have to be so hard. Recurrent UTIs negatively impact one’s lifestyle, mood and relationships — they do not have to.
The gender dynamic in medicine and urologist is changing, I am excited to be a role model for other women interested in pursuing a urologic career. I may not always have the answers but I can be a resource for personnel and professional questions. I find, just talking through a situation with a like minded partner or mentor crucial to success.
I am excited to be launching a website (hopefully soon!)-drkatherinklos.com focusing on sex education. Through my career, I have cared for women of all age groups and walks of life. Unfortunately, one theme has rung clear — lack of knowledge. Fifth grade health class (and for some of VHS tapes) should not be the sole source for body based information. I applaud sex education in the school as a foundation, but I hope to provide a reliable resource for women to turn to for answers to simple questions like “where are my labia?” Or “Does the vagina stretch?”
It is not always easy to share personal information but there is a reason celebrities, influencers and professional athletes flaunt their food choices, fashion, “new” ideas and likes/dislikes. With this shared information, a relationship is formed and these strangers start to seamlessly influence our own decisions. In that way, you will likely remember what I have to say and thus better influence your health choices.
I am a 41 year old widow and mother of three small children. I have learned life is not planned or easily forecasted. Taking control of your health needs to be a priority. I am passionate about sex education, preventative medicine, meditation and mindset work. My kids would say I’m obsessed with my Peloton, yoga, coffee and baking. They probably aren’t far off as I am easily persuaded with a good cup of coffee and a chocolate chip cookie. My favorite kind of evening is movie night with my three kids, where there are never too few snuggles or homemade popcorn.