Gynecologist Ralph Turner enjoys helping his female patients improve both their health and their quality of life

Thursday, April 12, 2012

For Doctor of the Year tab published March 25, 2012 in the Longview News-Journal

Ralph Turner, MD, treats conditions that many patients – and even some doctors – are embarrassed to talk about. He specializes in urogynecology – the treatment of women with pelvic, bowel, or bladder control problems.

But, as Dr. Turner said, “If you can’t tell your gynecologist about these things, whom can you tell?”

Dr. Turner is an assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, which he joined in 2009.
He’s board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology and a Fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Dr. Turner also is trained in advanced gynecological and laproscopic surgery.

“I enjoy caring for women. Many women think of their gynecologist as their primary health care provider. That means I consider not only what the health of a 25-year-old patient is today, I consider what her health is likely to be when she’s 50 or even when she’s 80,” he said.

While Dr. Turner is trained in advanced gynecological and laparascopic surgery, he can also perform traditional vaginal surgery, which he called “the ultimate minimally invasive surgery.” Because the surgery is done through the vagina, physicians can repair the bladder and vagina without making other incisions.

Improving the health of women going through menopause
Since 2001, Dr. Turner has been the executive director of the Foundation of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparascopists (AAGL), the charitable foundation that advances minimally invasive gynecology worldwide. He served on the AAGL’s board of trustees from 2000 to 2002 and has been active with the organization since 1991.

Dr. Turner is dedicated to maintaining and improving the health of his female patients who are going through menopause. He is the only North American Menopausal Society certified menopause practitioner in Northeast Texas.

And he believes in the benefits of continuous low-dose estrogen therapy for menopausal women, especially up to age 60.

The benefits of estrogen
“Estrogen is an essential hormone that the body needs to maintain normal well-being, just as the body needs insulin, thyroid, and adrenal hormones,” said Dr. Turner, who has been a gynecologist for 30 years.

“Estrogen affects 1,400 processes in the human body, so it’s involved in many functions that aren’t related to sex or reproduction. What concentration of estrogen allows those processes to function at their best? I call that state ‘eu-estrogenemia,’ ” Dr. Turner said. He has created a website with information about the benefits of estrogen:

He is co-author of a published paper showing that some women develop kidney stones from six to 10 years after they go through menopause because the women no longer produce estrogen.

“We’re also trying to understand estrogen’s role in the brain, the retina, blood vessels, bones, etc., so that we can apply that knowledge when treating women throughout their life,” Dr. Turner said.

Effective treatments for pelvic floor problems
As a woman ages, she may begin having pelvic, bowel, or bladder control problems. These may be due to problems with her pelvic floor, the group of muscles that form a sling or hammock across the opening of a woman’s pelvis.

“The pelvic floor supports everything in a woman’s torso. If a woman has problems with her pelvic floor, her pelvis may ache and she may not feel good. It’s gratifying to be able to fix pelvic floors and help women like this have a better quality of life,” Dr. Turner said.

The good news is that that there are effective treatments for many pelvic floor problems, he said.

Dr. Turner completed his internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu and received his medical degree from The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.

He’s a graduate of McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, where he has served on the board of trustees since 2004.

For more than 60 years, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler has provided excellent patient care and cutting-edge treatment, specializing in pulmonary disease, cancer, heart disease, primary care, and the disciplines that support them. UTHSCT’s annual operating budget of $125 million represents a major economic impact of over $287 million for the Northeast Texas region. Since 2002, scientists in the Center for Biomedical Research have been awarded $118.6 million in research dollars. As the academic health science center for Northeast Texas, its graduate medical education programs – with residencies in family medicine and occupational medicine – provide doctors for many communities throughout the region and beyond. UTHSCT is also the program sponsor of a residency program in internal medicine at Good Shepherd Medical Center in Longview.

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