In the field of medicine, you must have heard of urology, and you’re probably familiar with what gynaecology is. But it’s unlikely that you’ve come across the subspecialty of urogynecology. So what is this lesser-known medical branch all about? As the name suggests, urogynecology is a subspecialty of gynaecology that deals with disorders of the female pelvic floor muscles, ligaments and tissues. Urogynecology is also known as female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
In this article, we’ll go over the subspecialty of urogynecology briefly.
What Makes Urogynecologists Unique?
Urogynecologists are gynaecologists with specialized training. This special training is needed to treat women with bladder control problems and other conditions involving the urinary tract and the female reproductive system. The pelvic floor includes a set of muscles that surround the pelvic organs. Sometimes these muscles weaken or get damaged, eventually causing pelvic floor disorders. Both women and men have pelvic floors, but urogynecologists specifically deal with female pelvic floor disorders.
What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
Urogynecologists evaluate, diagnoses and treat female patients with issues on the pelvic floor, which includes sensitive bladders, weak pelvic muscles, reproductive issues, and bladder or rectal incontinence. The type of issues they deal with are non-cancerous.
During the initial consultation, a urogynecologist will review a patient’s medical history and take note of any symptoms found in the pelvic floor or bladder of the patient. They’ll assess the impact of these symptoms on the quality of the patient’s life. Then, they will try to narrow down the cause of the problem by performing an examination of the muscles, ligaments, connective tissue, nerves, and organs within the pelvis. Once they come up with a diagnosis, they work with the patient to chart out a treatment plan.
What Conditions Do Urogynecologists Treat?
Here are some issues that urogynecologists treat:
- Severe pelvic pain (groin, back, abdomen)
- Pain during menstrual period
- Sudden and frequent urge to urinate
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- Burning sensation during urination
- Vaginal burning
- Urinary incontinence
What Kind Of Treatments Do Urogynecologists Prescribe?
Some common procedures urogynecologists prescribe and perform are:
- Vaginal pessary
- Burch procedure
- Cystocele and rectocele repair
- Marsupialization or excision of Bartholin’s Gland
- Paravaginal repair
- Posterior repair
- Sacral colpopexy
- Sacrospinous ligament fixation
- Trans-obturator tape (TOT)
- Tension-free vaginal tape
- Nerve stimulation
How Does One Become a Urogynecologist?
Your path to becoming a urogynecologist starts with completing four years of pre-med, followed by medical school. After medical school, you will need to apply for a residency program in obstetrics and gynaecology or urology. Post residency, you will need to complete a fellowship in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, and pass the required board exams to get certified to practice as a urogynecologist.
You can then apply to work at hospitals or set up a private practice. But remember, to retain your certification, you must regularly take recertification exams every few years.
The main goal of the field of urogynecology is to improve a woman’s quality of life. Women who “have an accident” when they sneeze,cough or perform physical activities, will greatly benefit from the expertise of a urogynecologist. Ignoring such problems can cause the patient to not only live uncomfortably but also stop doing things they love. For example, many women with an overactive bladder may avoid travelling for long durations, playing sports, or suffer through faecal incontinence or flatulence in silence. They may not even be aware that such issues can be treated. These issues can be embarrassing and stressful to deal with, causing the patient to avoid socializing altogether. Therefore, a urogynecologist can have a huge impact on the quality of women’s lives.