Adult women are often at risk of developing pelvic floor disorders. These disorders are due to the pelvic floor being weakened due to obesity, childbirth, a Cesarean-section, abdominal surgery, and certain sports. Women with pelvic floor disorders can find themselves experiencing vaginal pain, pelvic organ prolapse, and incontinence. If you’re experiencing these symptoms, it may be time to see a urogynecologist.
A urogynecologist is a specialist physician who treats women’s pelvic floor disorders and develops appropriate treatments and interventions such as exercises and surgeries. After medical school, urogynecologists complete their residency in either Urology or Obstetrics and Gynecology. Their continuing studies focus on the muscles and organs in the female pelvis. They study how these structures can be strengthened and healed from sudden or chronic injuries. Urogynecologists are often called in by oncologists treating female patients with uterine, bladder, and cervical cancers for surgical consultations.
Urogynecology is a relatively new specialty that came to be when The American Board of Medical Specialties saw a need for more gynecologists and urologists who were well-versed in female pelvic reconstructive surgery. The very first urogynecologists became board-certified in 2013. Since then, hundreds of urologists and gynecologists in the United States have underdone the certification process needed to become a urogynecologist.
Since organs in the female pelvis share connected tissue, when one of them is injured, the others are at risk of becoming damaged as well. This is why women who have recently given birth vaginally suffer from urinary and fecal incontinence, fistulas, tears, and an overactive bladder. Similarly, women who do a lot of heavy lifting over the course of their lives – whether it was gym weights or their own small children – often experience pelvic organ prolapse. This is a urogynecological condition in which an organ falls from its natural place within the pelvis. Following childbirth or surgery, the connective muscles around an organ can be stretched too far or severely weakened. After prolapsing, the organ presses against the vaginal wall until it can be fixed by a urogynecologist during surgery.
Women typically see urogynecologists after being referred to them by their gynecologist or urologist after complaints of specific lower abdominal pains and bladder and sphincter issues. In addition to surgical interventions, urogynecologists can recommend special (especially pre- and post-natal) exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor and prevent incontinence and other pelvic-related problems. If you have pelvic issues that still haven’t been resolved after seeing a urologist or gynecologist, it may be time to be examined by a urogynecologist.
Located in Agoura Hills, Dr. Sherry Thomas is a world-renowned gynecologist who specializes in women’s health and treating serious conditions that afflict her female patients. Contact Dr. Sherry Thomas today to schedule a consultation and find out how she can help you.