Holly N. Thomas, MD, MS

  • Assistant Professor of 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.

Dr. Thomas is on Twitter: follow her at @holly_n_thomas. Outside of work, she enjoys knitting projects to give to friends and family, exploring Pittsburgh’s parks, and cuddling with her pug, Rocky.

Education & Training

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

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.

Click here for a more complete bibliography of Dr. Thomas’s works.

Research Interests

  • Women’s health
  • Menopause
  • Sexual function
  • Mindfulness