Women’s Health

Women’s Health

From adolescence to motherhood to menopause, it can be challenging to find professional and personal health care for women in all stages of life. Fortunately, our region is home to caring medical experts and specialists who can help women navigate the everyday to the extraordinary.

“At St. Luke’s, you’re not a number. We believe in personalized care and have a full complement of health and wellness services for women,” says Debra Pingue, Women’s Service Line Administrator at St. Luke’s University Health Network.

From the first gynecological appointment for teens, to birthing centers and birth control options for women, to pelvic rehabilitation, breast imaging, osteoporosis, and menopause guidance for mature women, the network provides services for a lifetime.

“At St. Luke’s, we take a look at the whole woman and work as a team. If someone needs a specialist, we’re all connected which makes it easier and more convenient for the patient,” Pingue says.

Information is shared between departments, unifying care, to give physicians complete visibility of their patients. 

St. Luke’s is also known for its maternity services across the Lehigh Valley and Pingue says a new Women & Babies Pavilion is set to open at the Anderson Campus early next year.

Pingue emphasizes that care doesn’t stop after the baby arrives. St. Luke’s Baby & Me Support Center in Bethlehem hosts mom and baby postnatal exercise groups, breastfeeding support, postpartum support groups, and education and support throughout the whole journey into parenthood.

One service for women unique to the region is pelvic rehabilitation. Often, new moms find that they’re leaking urine when they cough or participate in physical activity. Lauren Garges, PT, the pelvic rehab director and board-certified women’s health clinical specialist at Physical Therapy at St. Luke’s in Bethlehem, says it’s common but not normal.

Garges says most women just need to strengthen their pelvic floor, which are the muscles from the pubic bone to tailbone, including the Kegel muscles, hips, abdominals, and low back. The pelvic floor holds up the bladder and uterus and not caring for the weakened muscles can lead to organ prolapse the years following pregnancy. There are exercises her clinicians can teach to remedy the issue.

“These are valuable services we can offer to women throughout their lifespan,” Garges says.

Another common issue seen in her office is the separation of the rectus abdominus muscles following pregnancy, and the problem is not just cosmetic. “It can lead to a weakened core which down the road can cause other issues,” Garges says.

Garges said her office offers successful treatment options that start from the inside out, building deep core muscle strength by contracting a focused area and adding larger muscle exercises for the torso, back, hips, and rectus abdominus.

Garges just saw a post-pregnancy patient who three months ago couldn’t do a crunch and can now hold a plank. She’s gained strength quickly and is scheduling her last visit.

“It’s a very sensitive area in physical therapy. Sessions are always private with one clinician and patients see the same clinician each time,” Garges says. “It’s important to get their trust.”

Sometimes a woman visits her gynecologist for an exam and hears a more severe concern—that of cancer. When it comes to breast cancer detection, St. Luke’s offers breast care facilities with higher-level breast imaging and diagnostic mammograms.

In the event the cancer involves the uterus, vulva, ovaries, or cervix, the patient could be quickly referred to the network’s gynecologic oncology team.

“Once they’ve received a diagnosis, they feel like a clock is ticking. St. Luke’s has four gynecological oncologists on staff and by far the largest service in the region,” says Dr. Israel Zighelboim, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Luke’s. “We have the ability to get patients in incredibly quickly and they are so appreciative,” he says.

Zighelboim performs laparoscopic and robotic minimally invasive surgeries on 50-75 percent of patients. “These advanced procedures can lead to quicker discharges from the hospital, less pain, and faster recovery,” he expresses.

Surgery takes place at St. Luke’s locations in Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, Stroudsurg, and Quakertown. Physicians work along with radiology specialists to determine the course of action for each patient.

Dr. Zighelboim is extremely proud of his team at St. Luke’s. “Patients feel like they’re at home, satisfaction is phenomenal, and it’s like we’re a second family,” he says.


Abdominal separation, core weakness, low back pain, pelvic girdle pain, scar tissue, sciatic pain

Abdominal pain, chronic constipation, organ prolapse, painful intercourse, tailbone pain, urinary frequency, leakage or urgency
Services available at nine St. Luke’s locations: Bethlehem, Allentown, Center Valley, Forks, Hellertown, Kresgeville, Lehighton, Palmer, Pennsburg

For more information, call St. Luke’s at 1-866-785-8537 (STLUKES). 

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