From Menarche to Menopause, Jenny Gregory, MD, Stays Close with Patients
By BECKY GILLETTE
Baptist Health Medical Center OB/GYN with all aspects of women's health
Jenny Gregory, MD, loves women's health and the diversity that is involved in obstetrics and gynecology.
"I take care of women from menarche through menopause," said Gregory, who is affiliated with Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock. "I get to help women with gynecological wellness and cancer screening, as well as sexual, reproductive, and mental health. I enjoy the surgical aspect of my job and the variety of vaginal, laparoscopic, open, and robotic procedures. Delivering babies is certainly exciting and rewarding, but there are times where women are in life-threatening emergencies which I must be prepared for."
Women sometimes prefer a female OB-GYN since a woman might have experienced similar issues and better understand the issues. Gregory empathizes with women who have experienced fetal loss.
"I experienced a miscarriage before my first child and still grieve the loss," she said. "I cannot imagine the pain of losing a fetus. Women are instantly bound to that baby from the first urine pregnancy test, and it is devastating to lose a baby, even in early miscarriages."
Gregory supports the charity Mamie's Poppy Plate which provides memorial plates with footprints to families who have lost a baby.
Gregory also knows what labor and delivery are like personally because she has experienced childbirth three times. She is the mother of girls 6, 8 and 10.
In addition to fetal loss, the hardest part of her work is trying to help patients who have cancer and those who are struggling to conceive.
"I sympathize with women struggling with infertility," Gregory said. "They desperately want a child, and it is very stressful."
What she loves the most about her job is her patients and appreciates getting to see and visit with them year after year. "I really have the best patients," she said.
Broadly, not much has changed with labor and delivery. Women have been delivering babies since the dawn of mankind.
"However, we do have technology to better assess fetal and maternal health," Gregory said. "We now can extract fetal chromosomes from maternal blood to screen for chromosomal anomalies. There are medications and instruments to better aid in stopping maternal hemorrhage, which is the leading cause of maternal death. Maternal fetal medicine specialists can even perform surgeries in utero on a fetus. Over the past decade, there has been a trend to decrease the Cesarean section rate across the country. We know that Cesarean sections are certainly necessary, but obstetricians are much more proactive in avoiding them, if possible."
Arkansas has one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the country. Gregory said this is related to the health of Arkansans in general.
"The high obesity rate with its associated comorbidities affects a fetus even more than a woman," she said. "Also, studies show that a lower socioeconomic status is directly related to a higher infant mortality rate. Providing more outreach to women, especially those in poverty, would lower this rate. Programs to educate people about exercise and nutrition would lower the rate. I read that the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has a new program in Northwest Arkansas focused on helping Marshallese women gain access to prenatal care. Programs like that can make a powerful difference in the fetal mortality rate."
One thing that has changed in women's health in recent years is guidelines for screening mammography. Different societies have released guidelines with variance in the recommendations of the age to initiate and the frequency of imaging.
"I counsel my patients on the various screening guidelines and personally recommend mammograms every one to two years starting at the age of 40 (unless they are high risk). Cervical cancer screening has evolved with the use of HPV co-testing. PAP smears begin at the age of 21 and are done every three years. HPV co-testing is added at the age of 30 and is done every three to five years. I always have to explain this to women, especially older women, who are accustomed to yearly PAP smears."
Birth control has also evolved. While oral contraceptives are still widely used, long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) like IUDs and Nexplanon are increasingly popular.
"More younger women are choosing LARCs which is great because they have a higher efficacy and compliance rate," Gregory said. "Not many college students can remember to take a pill the same time every day. They also have great insurance coverage and the pills are usually free, which is nice for young women."
Gregory grew up in North Little Rock, and her high school biology teacher, Mrs. Kirby, sparked her interest in science. Initially, in college, she planned to be a research microbiologist. However, in 1999, after volunteering at a free health medical clinic in Fayetteville, she realized that she loved the interaction between physicians and their patients. She then decided to pursue clinical medicine.
After graduating from University of Arkansas at Fayetteville with a B.S. in microbiology, she attended UAMS for medical school and then for a residency in obstetrics and gynecology. After residency, she joined Little Rock Gynecology and Obstetrics in 2000. In March, she joined the Arkansas Women's Center and is continuing to care for women at Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock. She has been on the OB/GYN department committee at Baptist Health Medical Center-Little Rock for 10 years and chaired the committee for two years.
With three kids and a husband who is an emergency medicine physician, schedules can be difficult to manage. Most of her leisure time is spent running her children to activities.
"I love watching them do what they love and creating bonds with their teammates," Gregory said. "I love exercise and anything outdoors. I love hiking, camping, and canoeing. I love to travel, but COVID-19 has obviously stymied that."
For more info, go online to: