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, which is also known as bowel or anal incontinence, is the inadvertent loss of stool. This can result in leakage of liquid, solid or gas bowel contents.
- Pelvic pain can arise from any of the organ systems housed within the female pelvis. Urogynecologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of most pain syndromes that originate in the pelvis.
For more information about our urology services, please call (925) 937-7740.