Have you experienced that terrible feeling when you break or laughing or move suddenly? The feeling of a little bit of pee coming out or the feeling like you might wet yourself?
This urinary incontinence is uncomfortable and embarrassing and probably not something you want to openly discuss. You might even feel embarrassed to bring it up with your doctor.
You should know that this problem and many similar conditions happen for many women and there is a branch of medicine dedicated to helping it.
Read on to learn all about urogynecology and how this specialized doctor could help you.
1. What Is Urogynecology?
Urogynecology is a specialized field of medicine for females. It focuses on the unique combination of urology and gynecology. Urogynecology addresses female pelvic medicine.
This specialized medicine also addresses reconstructive surgery of the pelvic region.
2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
A urogynecologist is a doctor who specializes in the care of women who suffer from pelvic floor disorders. Typically, a urogynecologist has gone to medical school and done a residency in the study of gynecology or urology.
For most urogynecologist, they then go on for additional training in pelvic floor disorders. The American Board of Medical Specialties recognizes Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery.
The urogynecologist will work with women to address their pelvic floor issues through evaluation, diagnosis, treatment, and management.
3. What Symptoms Might a Woman Experience Who Needs to See a Urogynecologist?
Often the symptoms a woman experiences with pelvic floor disorders make them uncomfortable, even more so to bring up with their doctor. In this case, it makes sense to see someone who specializes in these female issues and is specially trained to help with them.
Symptoms may start subtly and then get worse over time. Symptoms women might experience include:
- Difficulty urinating or emptying the bladder completely
- Urine leaking whenever you exercise, laugh, or cough
- Urgent need to urinate
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Bulge in the vaginal wall
- Pulling or aching in the vagina
Often these symptoms will feel worse at the end of the day or after having a bowel movement too.
Women who are experiencing vaginal dryness, hormonal imbalance, or a decreased sensation with intercourse might also benefit from seeing a urogynecologist.
4. What Is a Pelvic Floor Disorder?
The pelvic floor in women is the area of the body that supports the bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. It is supported by the muscles., connective tissues, ligaments, and nerves in the area. These muscles and tissues help these body parts function and do their respective jobs in the body.
These supports are often referred to as the sling or hammock holding these body parts in place. When these supports become damaged or weakened, it impacts the bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum from properly functioning. This is the essence of pelvic floor disorder.
The most common of pelvic floor disorders are fecal incontinence, urinary incontinence, or pelvic organ prolapse.
5. What Is a Pelvic Organ Prolapse?
Pelvic organ prolapse is one of the three common pelvic floor disorders treated by a urogynecologist.
When there is a pelvic organ prolapse, those same muscles and ligaments that make up the hammock or sling, weaken and the organs (bladder, uterus, and bowel) drop down into the vagina. This often causes what appears to be a bulge in the vaginal wall or vaginal canal.
There are several different types of pelvic organ prolapse. The types include:
- Uterine prolapse where the uterus drops down to the vaginal canal
- Cystocele where the front of the vaginal canal starts to sag and the bladder drops down
- Rectocele or enterocele happens when the back of the vaginal canal pushes forward allowing the rectum or intestines to bulge into the vagina
Another common prolapse can happen after a woman has a hysterectomy. The hysterectomy causes those vaginal walls to start to sag.
6. What Causes a Prolapse to Happen?
There are a variety of reasons that can cause one of the forms of pelvic prolapse to happen.
If a person delivers a baby vaginally, they can experience prolapse problems. C-section births can also cause a prolapse. A woman who has multiple births is also at higher risk for this condition.
Genetics and smoking can all contribute to the issue too. If a woman has chronic issues with constipation or a chronic cough, these are also potentially problematic.
One of the biggest contributing factors is age. It is not uncommon for women past childbearing years to be at higher risk for tears or weakening of the pelvic floor.
7. What Treatment Options Are Available for Problems With the Pelvic Floor?
There are a variety of treatment options available from your urogynecologist. These include both surgical and non-surgical options.
One popular treatment that you can do at home is Kegel exercises that will work to strengthen the pelvic walls. If those are not enough then the urogynecologist might opt to refer you to a physical therapist who also specializes in helping build strength and muscle in the pelvic floor.
Medication is another option. One popular choice is Botox injections which do more than just help with wrinkles.
Another non-surgical option your doctor might try is to be fitted with a vaginal pessary. This is a plastic device you wear to help treat prolapse and address and improve bladder control.
Urogynecologists also will perform surgery if the less invasive options are not working. Through surgery, they can rebuild the supports on the pelvic floor. They can also go in and do repairs on tears in the pelvic wall. They can also repair damages sphincter or anal muscles to help put less pressure on the pelvic floor.
If you are a woman struggling with any of these issues, consider seeing a doctor who specializes in urogynecology. Because this is the area of specialty they are well-equipped with both surgical and non-surgical treatments to help you with the problems you are facing.
Dr. Lotze and his staff are trained to evaluate your condition and help to create the best possible treatment plan available. Contact us today to set up an appointment. You don’t need to worry about these problems alone.