Dr Lamees Ras, 35, of Walmer Estate, is breaking boundaries in the field of gynaecology by setting her sights on becoming one of a handful of certified urogynaecologists in the country.
A urogynecologist manages clinical problems associated with dysfunction of the pelvic floor and bladder. Pelvic floor disorders affect the bladder, reproductive organs, and bowels.
Dr Ras said there is a very small number of urogynaecologists who have gone through a formal training programme for certification.
“The reason for this is that until recently, certification in urogynaecology was not available in South Africa and a gynaecologist needed to go oversees to get the formal certification. The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) only recently recognised the subspeciality and they are currently in the process of setting up a register for urogynaecologists,” she said.
Dr Ras is in her second month of a two-year sub-specialisation training programme to become a urogynaecologist.
She completed her high school education at Islamia College in Lansdowne before doing her six-year medical degree at UCT. A two-year internship followed and a year’s community service followed.
She worked for two years as a medical officer in obstetrics and gynaecology. She became a qualified obstetrician and gynaecologist in October 2015.
During her training to become an obstetrician and gynaecologist, she did a research project on women with pelvic organ prolapse, which happens when a pelvic organ, such as the bladder, drops from its normal place into the lower belly and pushes against the walls of the vagina.
“This research allowed me to have a glimpse into their lives in terms of how much prolapse had affected their lives, limited their normal activities, social life, intimate relationships, self-esteem and confidence. I saw how women were accepting this condition as a ‘normal’ part of ageing and saw how long they were willing to suffer with this condition before they were driven, out of desperation, to eventually seek medical help. I saw the suffering in this mostly elderly ‘forgotten’ population and was really inspired to help in whichever way I could,” she said.
She urged women to take ownership of their reproductive health and bodies. “Do not be mere bystanders in your lives: think consciously about where you would want to be in the future and take active steps and be constructive in your planning to make it a reality,” she said.
To those wanting to follow in her footsteps, she said: “The road to becoming an obstetrician and gynaecologist is a long and difficult one that requires a lot of sacrifice, discipline and determination. It is, however, also extremely rewarding and heart-warming and one of the few areas in medicine, where you can see the miracle of life on an almost daily basis and hopefully make an impact on women’s lives for the better.”