What Is a Urogynecologist, and Can They Help You?

Urogynecology focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of pelvic floor disorders in women

Urogynecologists focus on the diagnosis and treatment of pelvic floor disorders in women.

A urogynecologist is a medical doctor specializing in urogynecology, a subspecialty of gynecology and urology.

What is the Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor consists of muscles, ligaments, and tissue supporting the bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. They are in the pelvis.

When the pelvic muscles weaken or sustain damage, they can cause various medical conditions known as pelvic floor disorders.

How Do Urogynecologists Treat Pelvic Floor Disorders?

Urogynecologists receive extensive training in surgical and nonsurgical approaches to treat these conditions. They use various diagnostic tools and techniques to evaluate pelvic floor function and structure.

Treatment options range from lifestyle changes, pelvic floor exercises, and medications to advanced surgical procedures when necessary. The choice of treatment depends on a patient’s specific condition, its severity, and the patient’s preferences and medical history.

What sets urogynecologists apart from other medical professionals is their specialized training in gynecology and urology. Specializing in both allows them to understand the complex interactions between the female reproductive and urinary systems.

They analyze the connection between these systems and how they impact pelvic floor health to deliver personalized health care.

What Is the Difference Between a Urogynecologist and a Gynecologist?

Both doctors focus on women's health but have different specialties and treat different conditions.
Key distinctions between the two include the focus of expertise, specialized training, conditions treated, and scope of care.

The Focus of Expertise:

Gynecologist is a medical doctor who specializes in the overall health of the female reproductive system.

They provide a variety of services. These include regular check-ups, Pap smears, birth control, prenatal care, family planning, and diagnosing and treating gynecological problems. Some examples of these problems are menstrual disorders, infections, and reproductive health issues.

Urogynecologist: A subspecialist in gynecology who focuses on diagnosing and treating pelvic floor disorders. These disorders impact the pelvic floor muscles, ligaments, and tissue that provide support to the organs in the pelvis. These organs include:

  • Bladder
  • Uterus
  • Vagina
  • Rectum
Urogynecologists: are experts in treating problems caused by pelvic floor dysfunction, such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic pain.

Specialized Education and Training:

Gynecologists finish their medical education and undergo a residency program in obstetrics and gynecology. This training prepares them to deal with various women's health problems, such as pregnancy, childbirth, reproductive health, and gynecological issues.

Urogynecologist: Urogynecologists also complete residency in obstetrics and gynecology or in urology. After additional years of fellowship training and certification in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, they become experts in the field.

They learn how to assess, diagnose, and treat issues that affect the muscles and tissue in the female pelvic organs. These doctors are also well-versed in the latest research related to these conditions.

Board certification in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery means the doctor passed an official American board exam. This certification is a testament to the physician's exceptional expertise in this specialty.

Conditions Treated:

Gynecologists can handle many women's health problems, like regular care, birth control, period issues, hormone imbalances, fertility worries, and gynecological infections.

Urogynecologists treat pelvic floor disorders. These disorders include urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, fecal incontinence, chronic pelvic pain, overactive bladder, and similar conditions. See below for a thorough list of conditions treated.

Scope of Care:

Gynecologists provide comprehensive care for women starting at a young age, from adolescence to menopause and beyond. They offer preventive care, screenings, and treatments related to reproductive health.

Urogynecologists have a more focused scope of care, concentrating specifically on pelvic floor dysfunction and related conditions. Their expertise lies in diagnosing and managing complex pelvic floor disorders, often requiring specialized interventions.

Who should see a Urogynecologist?

Women who are experiencing symptoms related to pelvic floor disorders should consider consulting a urogynecologist.

Family medicine doctors, OB/GYNs, and urologists know about these issues. However, a urogynecologist can provide more expertise.

If you have problems with prolapse or incontinence or your primary care provider recommends it, you should see a urogynecologist. Another option is to get a referral to a urogynecologist.

These specialists undergo training to diagnose and treat various conditions affecting the pelvic floor's muscles and structures.

Any specific age group can seek care from a urogynecologist. Pelvic floor issues can impact women of all ages, but they are more prevalent in older women.

What are the treatment options provided by a Urogynecologist?

A urogynecologist can suggest various treatments to alleviate or heal symptoms of pelvic floor disorders. Selecting the one that best suits your lifestyle and addresses your risk factors.

Minor changes and interventions can often greatly improve your daily quality of life.

Your doctor may suggest non-surgical or surgical treatment based on your preferences, condition severity, and overall health.

Conservative approaches include drugs, changes in behavior and/or diet, and vaginal devices (commonly called pessaries). You may need to strengthen your pelvic floor with pelvic floor exercises.

Your urogynecologist may also suggest pelvic floor therapy with biofeedback and electric stimulation as treatment options. Your urogynecologist may also employ safe and effective surgical procedures to address incontinence and prolapse.

If you are not sure if your symptoms need a urogynecologist, talk to your regular doctor. They can help you find the right specialist.

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