Women in Wellness: “I want women to accept their strength and beauty” with Dr. Karen Patrusky

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
11 min readSep 2, 2020


Women are finally being acknowledged as a force. Gen Xers are the first group of women that I want to address, a generation of women who are expected to have it all. What it is really meant to read is that a Gen X woman does it all. She is a mother, a worker and often a caregiver to aging parents. She is expected to look youthful and feel sexy. With all of this on her plate that is NOT an easy task. What I want for these women is to feel good about themselves without needing to change themselves, I want them to accept their strength and beauty.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Karen Patrusky.

Dr. Karen Patrusky is a board certified, obstetrician-gynecologist, who has been in practice for over 20 years. Aside from practicing medicine, Dr. Patrusky is also a ‘women’s health’ entrepreneur, working in the domain of both product development and the health tech. She has listened to her patients and responded with multiple ways to improve women’s health and care.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I was a bit of a late bloomer and it actually took me a while to feel confident and find my purpose. Once I found direction (in my early 20’s), my mission and path were clear. I took two gap years in between college and medical school — that was fairly unusual at the time — now it is more commonplace. I loved studying medicine and I never wavered that this was what I was meant to do. As I did my clinical rotations, it crystallized for me the very first day of my OB-GYN rounds that I was meant to work with and advocate for women. I love every aspect of women’s reproductive health, from menstruation to menopause.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

When trying to figure out my life, where I belonged and how to “do it all”, I would often hear that you can’t be good at everything. People, most often women, would say that it would be impossible to manage a career and a family. That scared me because both were very important to me. I wanted my independence, I wanted to satisfy my intellectual curiosity and I wanted a family too. I do not think that I would feel complete with just either/or. It has not been easy, but I am fortunate to have made it work. With ample support of family and friends, I was able to be a very present, available and involved mother to my children (my daughter is now 21 and my son is 16) all while working full time in a robust OB-GYN practice. I live in the community where many of my patients also live and it makes me feel that much more connected.

Once my children grew and became more independent, I realized that there was more work to be done. I have evolved with my patients, I have listened to them and sought ways to improve women’s overall sexual health. About 12 years ago, two of my patients, both of whom I was, and still am, very close to, were diagnosed with breast cancer in their early 40’s on the very same day. They both had an invasive disease, and both had to undergo removal of their breasts plus grueling chemotherapy. The treatment put them into a premature menopause. Once they recovered from their cancer battle, adjusted to their physical changes of breast removal and reconstruction, they had another battle to deal with — painful sex. It was their journey, as well as so many other women who also have this experience, that inspired me to create a product that would help women rid themselves of the shame associated with difficult and/or painful sex. The criteria for my product, Voilà Intimate Mood Oil, was that it had to be hormone free, all natural and sexy. And by creating this product, something that can not only make a woman feel good, but is also packaged beautifully, she doesn’t have to hide it in the back of her nightstand. I feel very strongly that women should talk about these sexual issues, openly and freely without shame.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

After my internship year, I was offered a job with a practice that was considered to be a premiere Park Avenue OB/GYN practice. I was excited that they chose me as they were the envy of all my residents. I never looked elsewhere and thought I had it made. What I neglected to do was look past the street address and the status of their patients. What I needed to do was look at their life priorities and see if they matched mine. Unfortunately, they did not. I missed my daughter’s first birthday because of that choice, my work partner tried to console me and said not to worry about it because my daughter would never know the difference. It was that moment that I had clarity in what was important in my life.

I wanted a balance between work and family. I left that practice and started over with a group of people who were and still are like minded and we have been working together harmoniously for over 20 years. I am now the oldest female obstetrician at the hospital where I practice, and I am able to continue because I have found a balance in life. I will always regret missing my daughter’s first birthday celebration, but I am thankful that my absence that day opened my eyes.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My greatest inspiration and mentors are my sisters. I am the youngest of three. My sisters, identical twins, are incredibly brilliant, kind and thought provoking. Although we are close in age, 20 months apart, I took those gap years and was trying to figure out my path as they were both well into their careers. Both of them encouraged me, but at the same time made me think long and hard about what it was going to take to check all the boxes in my life that I want to accomplish. They never let me look at life through rose colored glasses. I am so very grateful for their wisdom and support.

The most valuable lesson I learned, words that have served me well and that I say to myself each and every day, are from a retired partner of mine, Dr. J, a man who truly loved every minute of his craft. He said that my days would blend together and sometimes so would my patients. He reminded me that I may not remember the details of my patient’s, but they would always remember the details of our visit, and so I must always treat them with respect and kindness and to listen to them. These seem like words that should be obvious, but the truth is that medicine has become very cumbersome, there is a lot more paperwork and in the digital era a lot more expectations on providers. That is why I always try to do the best that I can to keep things between my patients and myself very personal and real.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

Women are finally being acknowledged as a force. Gen Xers are the first group of women that I want to address, a generation of women who are expected to have it all. What it is really meant to read is that a Gen X woman does it all. She is a mother, a worker and often a caregiver to aging parents. She is expected to look youthful and feel sexy. With all of this on her plate that is NOT an easy task. What I want for these women is to feel good about themselves without needing to change themselves, I want them to accept their strength and beauty.

Society has made menopausal or peri-menopausal woman feel old and weathered as we are bombarded with imagery of youth. What has happened, is that these women are constantly trying to change their exterior appearance to feel better about themselves. What I would love is for these women to recognize their worth and to feel empowered, strong and beautiful (inside and out). We need to let go of the negative connotations of menopause. Instead, women need to enjoy their health and happiness in this new life stage and be grateful that they are alive and well to enjoy it. And, Intimacy is something that can be made even better at this stage. A woman no longer needs to be burdened by her period and she no longer needs to worry about pregnancy or contraception. This can and should be liberating. Unfortunately for many, menopause causes the hormone estrogen to decrease and a possible effect of this is vaginal dryness, which can cause sex to feel a bit more painful or uncomfortable. Many women choose to ignore this problem, often even avoiding sex. What I propose is that women have a candid conversation, it should not be a taboo subject, with their partner, friends and healthcare providers. They will realize that they are not alone and that there are options to help. Having sex regularly and using lubrication, especially something that is all natural, can and does enhance intimacy.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

Small changes in lifestyle can have a huge impact on wellbeing. I certainly have to state the obvious; 1. Diet. Eating healthy, whole and delicious foods is a must. A healthy diet keeps the body strong but the food itself should bring joy. Meal prep should not always be a chore. It can be an activity that brings loved ones together in collaboration. Choosing fruits and vegetables that are in season will always make for a more delicious meal. 2. Exercise. Regular exercise is so important for women. It is necessary for physical health and should be varied. Aerobic activity for heart health, yoga or stretching for agility and joint health and weight and strength training is important for bone health. Additionally, exercise is a great way to manage stress. 3.Sleep. Getting a restful night sleep is also a must. As we get older sleep is something that does not always comes as easy. Nighttime rituals can be very helpful in clearing the mind in preparation for rest. The world is moving in rapid speed with so much going on nationally and globally that if we ruminated over it, we would never clear our minds. I recommend not falling asleep to the TV, avoid an electronic reader in bed, and turn off your cell phone. A calming scent such as lavender diffused into the room can help with relaxation as can a few minutes of reflection. I often advise my patients to keep a pen and paper at the bedside so that if something pops into your mind and you are afraid you will forget you can jot it down and not worry about it. Women are consumed with all the things that they have to do and stress and lose sleep over this. If you write it down, you won’t forget. 4. Self-care. Women need to treat themselves to simple pleasures and take time for self-care which can include something physical, mental and/or emotional. From taking a long walk to getting that much needed foot massage to taking a mental break or reading a good book. Too many women feel guilty when they do this. It will have the opposite effect and make you feel more relaxed and joyous. 5. Love. Lastly, and most important, is the importance of relationships. Human care and love, be it from a lover, friend, child or other family member is necessary especially in the difficult times that the world is faced with today.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I think that globally we need to find a solution where people have access to healthy foods and healthy self-care. If you take care of your body, your mind rests easier. And if both your mind and body are well-maintained then you are at less risk for detrimental health issues. If people are healthier overall, we would have much less drain on our healthcare system. Our focus can then shift to take care of ourselves and each other in a much more meaningful way.

What are your top “3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Learn how to manage your time + You will always be late. As an OBGYN something always has to give. I wish I would have had a better understanding of the unpredictability of time. In other words, it is really hard to commit to anything when you are a physician on-call 24/7- — which is quite often. I am someone who is punctual, and this line of work definitely puts a kink in that. I have learned to manage expectations when it comes to my time and subsequent plans and commitments.
  2. Not all patients are the same. It is really important to have an open mind and not judge others, especially in health-care. I take care of women from all walks of life with different beliefs, different social values, different customs, different economic circumstances. Something that I have learned, and a lesson that I share with students I mentor now, is to never judge — — rather listen and try to always offer patience, empathy and understanding.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Environmental and climate changes are a huge problem. I think if we can respect our environment then worrisome climate changes that are trending will reduce. If we focus on a cause that affects each and every person then we can learn to live more sustainable lives. We won’t worry about devouring limited resources. We will leave the earth a cleaner and more vibrant place for the generations that follow. I tried to incorporate this mindset into my product development. That is why my bottles are glass and not plastic. The oil is completely plant placed and organically harvested and the infused essential oils and botanical extracts are accrued the same way.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

I am so excited to meet your readers! Please follow me on Instagram and Facebook @VoilaMoodOil and visit our website at voilamoodoil.com

Thank you for these fantastic insights!