What is a Urogynecologist?
A urogynecologist is a physician who specializes in disorders of the pelvic floor. It combines knowledge of both urology and gynecology to help diagnose and treat symptoms. Often, a urogynecologist works to restore the pelvic floor anatomy that has weakened.
How Does a Urogynecologist Differ from a Gynecologist?
Gynecologists specialize in the health of the female reproductive system. This includes the uterus, cervix, vagina, and ovaries.
Urologists specialize in diagnosing and treating urinary tract disorders for female and male patients, along with the male reproductive system. Urologists have specialty training in both conservative treatments and surgical management of the kidneys and urinary tract.
Urogynecologists specialize in treating women with complex benign pelvic conditions, including lower urinary tract disorders. They are trained in the comprehensive management of pelvic floor conditions.
What is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor muscles are located between the tailbone and the pubic bone within the pelvis. They support the bowel and bladder.
In females, the pelvic floor muscles also support the uterus and the vagina. These muscular bands are called sphincters to encircle the urethra, vagina, and anus as they pass through the pelvic floor. If the pelvic floor muscles become weak, you may experience prolapse, where there is no longer enough support for the uterus. You may also experience incontinence or the loss of bladder control.
What Can Cause Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles?
There may be a number of causes for weak pelvic floor muscles that may have you looking for a urogynecologist.
These may include:
- Overweight or obesity
- Chronic constipation
- Chronic straining to have a bowel movement
- Heavy lifting
- Chronic coughing from smoking
- Health problems
- Hereditary conditions
What are Common Conditions Urogynecologists Treat?
A urogynecologist is specialty trained to treat:
- Overactive bladder syndrome (OAB) – OAB includes the frequent feeling of needing to urinate or the need to urinate often. This urgency may also cause you to wake up at night.
- Urinary incontinence – This is when urine leaks when pressure is on your bladder like coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, or lifting. This uncontrollable leakage may also occur during other activities.
- Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) –This is a common pelvic floor disorder where one or more of the organs in the pelvis, such as the uterus and the cervix or the inner vaginal walls, become relaxed to the point of dropping close to or beyond the vaginal opening. These prolapses cause women to feel pressure, fullness, or a bulging sensation in the vagina.
- Fecal incontinence – This is inadvertent loss of stool in liquid, solid, or gas bowel contents.
- Pelvic pain – This type of pain arises from any of the organ systems housed within the female pelvis.
What are Treatments a Urogynecologists May Recommend?
Depending on your symptoms and your condition, you have several options. There is help, and you don’t have to live this way forever.
Symptoms involving the pelvic floor can create discomfort, embarrassment, pain, and cause you to change your daily habits.
Talk with a urogynecologist to start living without issues.
Some treatment options commonly used include:
- Lifestyle changes – This may include changing your diet, quitting smoking, limiting alcohol and caffeine, or other recommendations.
- Physical therapy – Your doctor may suggest therapy or some exercises to help strengthen your pelvic floor like Kegels.
- Prosthetic devices (pessary) – These can be implanted to help hold up organs or help prevent leakage.
- Injections – BOTOX or other injections can help to relax the muscles around the bladder to help reduce spasms and uncomfortable urges.
- Medications – Your doctor may recommend certain medications to help with your condition.
- Surgery – Procedures or surgeries may be necessary to restore the pelvic floor organs and anatomy.
When Should I Seek Help from a Urogynecologist?
If you have had uncomfortable symptoms with your pelvic floor, seek help from a urogynecologist. Often, you can talk about your medical history and any concerns you may have.
What may have become normal to you may not be normal to others. It is possible to live a life free from pain, discomfort, or other setbacks that you may experience.
If you are interested or have a question regarding a urogynecological problem, please give Dr. Wyman’s office a call at (941) 216-3602.