Holly Thomas, MD, MS

  • University of Pittsburgh, Division of General Internal Medicine

Holly N. Thomas, MD, MS, is Assistant Professor of Medicine. Dr. Thomas seeks to conduct innovative, interdisciplinary, patient-centered clinical research that will improve the health and quality of life of women across the lifespan. In particular, she is interested in understanding the physical and psychosocial factors that contribute to sexual dysfunction in midlife and older women and using this understanding to develop effective behavioral health interventions. Improving the quality of care and reducing disparities for midlife women within primary care settings is another focus of her research. Additionally, she studies mindfulness-based interventions for the treatment of common problems, such as chronic pain and sexual dysfunction.

Education and Training

BA, Renaissance Studies, Yale University, 2005
MD, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 2009
MS, Clinical Research, University of Pittsburgh, 2014
Internal Medicine Internship, UCLA Medical Center, 2010
Internal Medicine Residency, UCLA Medical Center, 2012
General Internal Medicine Fellowship, University of Pittsburgh / VA Pittsburgh Health System, 2014

Research Interests

Dr. Thomas seeks to conduct innovative, interdisciplinary, patient-centered clinical research that will improve the health and quality of life of women as they age. In particular, she is interested in understanding the physical and psychosocial factors that contribute to sexual dysfunction in midlife and older women and using this understanding to develop behavioral treatment options for this population.

Representative Publications

Thomas HN, Hamm M, Hess R, Borrero S, Thurston RC. "I want to feel like I used to feel": a qualitative study of causes of low libido in postmenopausal women. Menopause. 2019.

  • In 15 individual interviews and 3 focus groups, this study found a number of different factors that contributed to low libido in women over 60, including postmenopausal vaginal symptoms, erectile dysfunction in male partners, fatigue and bodily pain, life stressors, and body image concerns.

Thomas HN, Neal-Perry GS, Hess R. Female sexual function at midlife and beyond. Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics. 2018;45(4):709-722.

  • In addition to anatomic factors related to estrogen deficiency, such as genitourinary syndrome of menopause, vulvovaginal atrophy, and pelvic organ prolaps, psychosocial factors, including prior sexual trauma, play an important role in sexual function in women. Several treatments have emerged for female sexual dysfunction; long-term studies and head-to-head comparisons are lacking.

Thomas HN, Hamm M, Borrero S, Hess R, Thurston RC. Body image, attractiveness, and sexual satisfaction among midlife women: a qualitative study. Journal of Women’s Health. 2019;28(1):100-106.

  • A qualitative study of 19 individual interviews and 3 focus groups among sexually active women 45-60 years of ae suggested that supporting positive body image may help midlife women maintain sexual satisfaction with aging.

Thomas HN, Hamm M, Hess R, Borrero S, Thurston RC. Patient-centered outcomes and treatment preferences regarding sexual problems: a qualitative study among midlife women. Journal of Sexual Medicine. 2017;14(8):1011-1017.

  • Qualitative study highlights midlife women’s value on physical and emotional outcomes with regard to sexual function; many women expressed a preference for behavioral approaches for treating sexual dysfunction.

Achievements and Awards

Commendation for Excellence in Medical Student Teaching, UCLA Internal Medicine Residency Program, 2010
Commendation for Excellence in Medical Student Teaching, UCLA Internal Medicine Residency Program, 2011
Finalist for Lipkin Award (best associate member presentation), Society of General Internal Medicine national meeting, 2013
Best Women's Health Poster, Society of General Internal Medicine national meeting, 2014
Exemplary Clinical Workshop, Society of General Internal Medicine national meeting, 2014
New Investigator Award, North American Menopause Society national meeting, 2016
Top Abstract, North American Menopause Society, 2016
Top Abstract, North American Menopause Society, 2017