Sexual health is a core component of Vernon gynecologist’s practice

Sexual health is a core component of Vernon gynecologist’s practice

Dr. Nicholas Half takes pride in his rapport with patients

  • Jul. 24, 2019 10:00 a.m.

– Story by Toby Tannas Photography by Lia Crowe

There isn’t much down time when you’re a busy obstetrician/gynecologist in a small but growing community. When Dr. Nicholas Half does have a moment to glance out his corner office window at the picturesque view of Vernon, he can’t help but be grateful.

Over the past decade, Nicholas has built a beautiful life and practice in the North Okanagan city, but as a young med student this was not the vision he had for his career.

“Not a lot of men have the life dream of being a gynecologist,” he chuckles. “Cardiothoracic surgery was my number one choice; orthopaedic surgery was my second choice, and at the top of the list of things I said I wouldn’t consider was obstetrics/gynecology.”

In his third year of medical school, when students started seeing patients on rotation in the hospital, Nicholas quickly ruled out his top two choices for various reasons and kept coming back to obstetrics/gynecology.

“It was just one of those things. It’s got the medicine component, it’s got patient care, it’s a lot of conversation, not all surgery.”

Ultimately though, it was the patients who cemented his medical future.

“I love what I do. Women are very communicative. They show gratitude and thankfulness. There’s not a lot of specialties in medicine anymore where you hear ‘thank you.’ I hear those words every day.”

Nicholas’ love for the work and his commitment to his patients has recently taken him into a new realm of service: a user-pay procedure that’s rarely offered in a gynecology clinic.

“It’s called the MonaLisa Touch. It’s a non-surgical laser treatment for vaginal dryness, discomfort and irritation.”

After seeing many women suffer through sexual issues post menopause or after battling diseases like cancer, Nicholas decided to make a significant investment in an option that could improve their quality of life.

“You see cancer patients — they can’t even touch estrogen and they suffer. These are women in their 30s and 40s and their sex life is gone. This is who this machine is for.”

Regardless of why a patient is referred to his gynecology clinic, sexual health often comes up in conversation. Nicholas believes that when you can do something to improve or make sex more comfortable for a woman, her life and her relationship improve.

“Sex makes up about five per cent of the relationship when it’s good,” he explains. “But when it’s not, or it’s absent, it makes up 95 per cent of the relationship.”

As a male in a field that’s shifting to predominantly female care providers, Nicholas takes pride in the rapport he’s developed with his patients.

“I think as a doctor you want to be someone a patient can talk to comfortably about whatever they want to talk about, and that feel they’re being respected and listened to.”

Nicholas is well practiced in communicating with women as he’s married with three young daughters.

“We have twins. They’re five years old and we have a three year old. So basically, we have triplets. It’s busy,” he laughs.

With more than 100 hours dedicated to work in an average week, Nicholas doesn’t get to spend as much time with his kids as other dads with 9-to-5 jobs.

“My work life and home life balance could always be better; we all struggle with that as physicians. I just try to give them quality time. They just want to be with you, it doesn’t matter if we’re playing a game or building a gate.”

Nicholas’ wife, Dr. Aisha Manji, is also a physician. It means she understands first-hand the demands of the job.

Nicholas says, “I think that’s probably the best thing, that understanding. I think even in a small community where you’re hoping to have a better lifestyle than the big city, there are still a lot of demands in terms of what you can’t miss, what you have to go to battle for, for your patients.”

The couple will be getting some extra time together over the coming months, though. They’ve committed to dancing in support of the North Okanagan Hospice Society.

“My wife has a tie to the palliative community, end of life care. It’s always been one of her passions.”

Dancing with the Vernon Stars takes place this September. Between now and then, dance practices will become date nights.

“For us to spend that extra time together, dancing together will be nice,” he says with a smile.

The dancing commitment is another weekly appointment in an already very full calendar. But as I sit across from Dr. Half, I get the distinct sense he’s the kind of man who can juggle it all and do it well. Family man, physician, and for the next few months, fundraiser and dancer in support of a cause and a community very close to his heart.

“I love Vernon. My quality of life is great, I’ve got great people around me. That’s what it’s all about.”

Health and wellnessLifestyle

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A health worker holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine to be administered to members of the police at a COVID-19 vaccination center in Mainz, Germany, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. (Andreas Arnold/dpa via AP)
43 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

368 cases in the region remain active

Fernie Meat Market owner Mark Brown with the newest addition to his Griz Pins collection. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Griz Days this weekend!

The 44th annual Griz Days will be mostly online

STA members and non-members alike are encouraged to send in photos of their trail adventures. (Photo contributed by Scott Tibballs)
STA plots another trail for Lunch Network

The network will consist of 6km of trail outside of Sparwood

A member of the Avalanche Canada South Rockies field team gathers important snowpack data that is used to produce daily avalanche forecasts for the region. Photo by Jennifer Coulter.
Warming temperatures increase avalanche risk heading into the weekend

Warm temperatures impact conditions, human behaviour

The Elk River Pedestrian Bridge in Sparwood could be at risk without mitigation works. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Sparwood secures grant funding for bridge repairs

The district has secured $703,000 in funding from UBCM

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

The City of Vancouver estimates there are 3,500 Canada geese in the city right now, and that number is growing. (Bruce Hogarth)
Help tame Vancouver’s Canada goose population by reporting nests: park officials

The city is asking residents to be on the lookout so staff can remove nests or addle eggs

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

A vial of some of the first 500,000 of the two million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses that Canada has secured through a deal with the Serum Institute of India in partnership with Verity Pharma at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Federal panel recommends 4-month gap between COVID vaccine doses due to limited supply

The recommendation applies to all COVID-19 vaccines currently approved in Canada

A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a family doctor office, Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021 in Paris. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP -Christophe Ena
Trudeau ‘optimistic’ that timeline for rollout of COVID vaccines can be accelerated

Canada set to receive more than 6M COVID-19 vaccine dose than initially expected, by end of March

Most Read