Carolyn Westhoff, MD, MSc; June Hou, MD; Kirsten L. Cleary, MD

Ob/Gyn celebrates National Women's Health Week with lunch and learn session

May 17, 2017

Columbia University Medical Center’s Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology celebrated National Women’s Health Week on May 17 with a lunchtime event open to faculty, staff and students at CUMC and NewYork-Presbyterian as well as members of the public. Faculty members from the department discussed an array of topics related to women’s health and shared a few ways that women can take control of their wellbeing through awareness of some common health-related issues women could experience at different stages of their lives.

Around 50 guests attended the event. Three faculty members from the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology spoke, and then the event was opened up to the audience for a question and answer session.

  • Carolyn Westhoff, MD, Msc, Division Director of Family Planning and Preventive Services, spoke about recent advances that have been made in breast cancer prevention, and some of the factors that have now been identified as being correlated with a higher risk of breast cancer.
  • June Y. Hou, MD, Director of the Precision Medicine for Gynecologic Cancers Initiative, gave a brief presentation that detailed strategies for preventing cervical and ovarian cancer. A few of the strategies discussed included getting vaccinated for HPV, getting regular pap smears to detect any precancers or cell changes on the cervix, as well as undergoing genetic testing to assess your family history of cancer. Dr. Hou also noted that certain birth control methods, including fallopian tube removal and birth control pills, have been shown to decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Kirsten Lawrence Cleary, MD, MSCE, Co-Director of the Mothers Center, shared tips on heart health before, during, and after your pregnancy. Dr. Cleary noted that high blood pressure and other conditions related to heart health can lead to life-threatening conditions during pregnancy like preeclampsia and eclampsia. Dr. Cleary recommended that women watch their diet and monitor their blood pressure during pregnancy.

National Women's Health Week is an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. The celebration is intended to to empower women to make their health a priority and to to encourage women to take steps to improve their health. The 18th annual National Women's Health Week kicked off on Mother's Day, May 14, and was celebrated through May 20, 2017. Learn more at