Get to Know: Urogynecologist Monique Vaughan, MD

At a Glance
Title: Assistant Professor
Residency: University of Virginia
Medical Degree: University of Florida

One out of three women will experience some form of urinary incontinence in her lifetime. Yet many women suffer in silence. At UVA, there is a comprehensive team of providers dedicated to treating pelvic floor disorders, working with women to open up about their symptoms and to design a treatment program that fits their individual needs and lifestyle. Monique Vaughan, MD, joined this skilled team of clinicians in August after finding inspiration and a mentor in urogynecologist Elisa Trowbridge, MD.

Learn more about Vaughan in the Q&A below.

What is your clinical focus at UVA?

My clinical focus is female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery — or urogynecology for short. I treat patients who have medical and surgical pelvic floor issues. This includes mostly pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence, but also some other more complex pelvic floor issues, such as urethral diverticula and genitourinary fistulae.

The symptoms associated with the conditions you treat can be difficult for women to discuss. How do you put patients at ease?

First, when I start a conversation, I’m very open with patients. I often tell them right away that I know these topics aren’t very fun to talk about. They can be embarrassing or taboo to discuss. But these problems are also very common, so I focus on that and I think that helps patients know they’re not alone. Then they’re usually more open to talking about their symptoms.

How do you work with women to determine the right treatment for them?

I think the really great thing — what I love about my specialty — is that most of the problems I treat are quality-of-life problems. Thankfully we have, for most of these issues, various treatment options. Some are more conservative, like physical therapy and pessaries, and some are more invasive, like surgery. Depending on a woman’s preferences and how bothered she is by her symptoms, she may have her own idea of how she wants to be treated. I like that we have options we can work with to find a treatment that is the best fit for each patient and their lifestyle. If they don’t want surgery, they don’t have to have it. They can have more conservative treatment. Or vice versa.

What types of surgical treatments do you perform?

Two of the most common problems we see are pelvic organ prolapse (POP) and stress urinary incontinence. For stress incontinence, the primary surgery I do is the urethral sling. For pelvic organ prolapse, there are many vaginal surgeries we do to repair the problem, including robotic sacral colpopexy and others. To determine which procedure is right for the patient, we consider her anatomy and personal preferences.

Are there any new procedures you’re especially excited about?

Sacral neuromodulation is an exciting procedure we do for refractory overactive bladder or urinary retention with overactive bladder. It is often used for women who have tried medication without success. It is a minimally invasive procedure that helps normalize some of the nerve connections to the bladder.

You did your residency training at UVA. Why did you decide to return as a faculty member?

I enjoyed my time here as a resident. I had amazing mentors and teachers. Really, all of the people that I worked with in my department when I was a resident were kind and smart and hard working, but they were also amazing clinicians and were great with patients. I was eager to work with them again and I also knew there was a need here, so I felt I could be useful.

Can you share more about your mentor?

Dr. Elisa Trowbridge is one of my partners in the Division of Urogynecology. We started out collaborating when I was a resident here at UVA. I knew I was interested in urogynecology, so I reached out to her to get involved in various research projects. I also had the opportunity to work with her in clinic and the OR while I was on my urogynecology rotations. She is very kind, smart, diligent and has a great bedside manner. I look up to her for all of those reasons, and I still learn from her every time we work together.

Are you involved in any current research efforts?

I have a couple of projects from my fellowship that I am finishing up. One is focused on the urinary microbiome and the other is looking at surgical outcomes after prolapse repair. I’m also working on an observational study for Botox treatment for overactive bladder.

Which patients should be referred to you?

Patients who have any pelvic floor issues, including overactive bladder, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, fistula or frequent urinary tract infections. Referring doctors are welcome to email me directly with questions.

What do you enjoy about living in Charlottesville?

My husband and I always loved Charlottesville. It felt like home here. We love the mountains and outdoor experiences, hiking and biking, visiting wineries and breweries. The relaxed, beautiful lifestyle and friendly people drew us back here!

To refer a patient to Monique Vaughan, call UVA Physician Direct at 800.552.3723.