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What is Urogynecology?

Urologists commonly treat conditions specific to the lower urinary tract (bladder and urethra) as well as the upper urinary tract (ureters and kidneys). Whereas gynecologists specialize in the health of the female reproductive system, which includes the uterus, cervix, vagina and ovaries. Urogynecology is a specialized field focusing on the diagnosis and treatment of conditions that affect the female pelvic organs as well as the pelvic floor – the tissues and muscles supporting the pelvic organs.

This specialty is a unique combination of gynecology, urology and reconstructive surgery. Urogynecology is also known as female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery because it addresses a variety of conditions that can affect the female pelvis.

What do urogynecologists treat?

Urogynecologists provide care for women suffering from pelvic floor disorders (PFDs). The pelvic floor is a system of ligaments, muscles and tissues that supports the uterus, vagina, bladder, urethra, small bowel and rectum. PFDs include the various types of incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. PFDs occur when the vaginal walls become relaxed and the support structures of the pelvic floor weaken.

The most common types of PFDs follow.

  • Overactive bladder syndrome (OAB) is when women have bothersome urinary urgency and/or urinary frequency and sometimes nighttime waking due to a need to urinate. This condition can, but does not always, result in uncontrollable leakage of urine known as urinary incontinence.
  • Urinary incontinence (commonly referred to simply as incontinence) is also known as uncontrollable leakage of urine. There are several types of urinary incontinence, the most common of which are stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and urge urinary incontinence (UUI). SUI is the leakage of urine associated with coughing, sneezing, laughing, jumping or other similar activities. UUI is leakage of urine associated with the sudden need to urinate.
  • Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is one of the most common PFDs. Commonly referred to simply as prolapse, POP occurs when 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. The prolapse causes women to feel a pressure, fullness or a bulging sensation in the vagina, though some women with POP feel no discomfort at all. In some cases, the vaginal tissue may begin to protrude from the vagina, which can be physically uncomfortable, conceptually bothersome and emotionally distressing.
  • Fecal incontinence, also called bowel or anal incontinence, is the unexpected passing of solid or liquid stools from your rectum. You may have a strong urge to have a bowel movement and not be able to control it.
    •  Our team will listen, explain and work together to help manage and treat your fecal incontinence with treatments such as diet changes, medicines, bowel training and exercises to train your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Constipation According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, part of the National Institutes of Health, constipation is a condition in which you may have fewer than three bowel movements a week.  For many people, constipation means they strain to have bowel movements, their stools are hard, dry, or lumpy, difficult or painful to pass; or they have a feeling that not all stool has passed.
    • Diagnosing the cause for constipation often requires a medical history and physical exam. Your doctor will determine if an underlying disorder is causing constipation, and treatment will be directed toward the specific causes.
    • Our team will listen, explain and work together to help manage and treat or prevent your constipation by making changes to what you eat and drink, being more active, or taking over-the-counter medicines. If these treatments don’t work, your physician may prescribe a medicine or suggest biofeedback or surgery.
    • It is important to understand that you should see your doctor if you have any recent change in your bowel habits, if persistent, may be cause for concern.
  • Rectal Prolapse occurs when the rectum (the last part of the large intestine) slides out of place and sticks out through the anus. Rectal prolapse can lead to fecal incontinence.
    • Our team will listen, explain and work together to help you decide on the best treatment or surgical options based on your age, physical condition, extent of the prolapse and results of tests.
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain is pain in your pelvic region (the area below your belly button and above your hips) that lasts for at least 6 months. Prostatitis is a common cause of pelvic pain in men. Common causes of chronic pelvic pain in women include gynecologic conditions such as: endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease and uterine fibroids.
    • Chronic pelvic pain is not an easy thing to live with. Our team will listen, explain and work together to determine the cause and manage the treatment of the pain.

For more information about our urology services, please call (925) 937-7740.