What is a Urogynecologist or Specialist in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery?
A urogynecologist is an obstetrician/gynecologist who has specialized in the care of women with pelvic floor disorders. The physicians at Chicago Urogynecology are also board certified in the sub-specialty of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery.
The American Board of Medical Specialties approved Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, also known as urogynecology, as a certified subspecialty in 2011, and the first doctors were board-certified in 2013. Urogynecologists are physicians who complete medical school and a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology or Urology. These physicians are specialists with additional years of fellowship training and certification in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. The training provides expertise in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions that affect the muscles and connective tissue of the female pelvic organs. Pelvic floor conditions that urogynecologists commonly treat include urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and pelvic organ prolapse. These physicians are also knowledgeable on the latest research in the field pertaining to these conditions.
What is the “Pelvic Floor”?
The pelvic floor is the muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and nerves that help support and control the rectum, uterus, vagina and bladder. The pelvic floor can be damaged by childbirth, repeated heavy lifting, chronic disease or surgery. Urogynecologists manage a wide variety of gynecologic problems including pelvic pain, endometriosis, uterine leiomyoma or fibroids, abnormal bleeding and sexual dysfunction. As top urogynecologists in Chicago, our doctors are committed to improving your lifestyle with an individualized treatment plan. Click here to schedule an appointment with our doctors.
Some problems due to pelvic floor disorders and their symptoms are:
- Incontinence: loss of bladder or bowel control, leakage of urine or feces.
- Prolapse: descent of pelvic organs; a bulge and/or pressure; dropped uterus, bladder, vagina or rectum.
- Emptying Disorders: difficulty urinating or moving bowels.
- Pelvic (or Bladder) Pain: discomfort, burning or other uncomfortable pelvic symptoms, including bladder or urethral pain.
- Overactive Bladder: frequent need to void, bladder pressure, urgency, urgency incontinence or difficulty holding back a full bladder.
- Uterine Fibroids or leiomyomas: Uterine tumors that may lead to pelvic pain, bleeding, and infertility.
- Female Sexual Dysfunction: Decreased libido or inability to orgasm.
- Labiaplasty, vulvoplasty, vaginal rejuvenation.
Growing numbers of women are choosing a below-the-belt plastic surgery called labiaplasty for a host of reasons, including genital pain, cosmetic reasons or to enhance sexual satisfaction.
Labiaplasty, or labial reconstruction, is a surgical procedure to trim down and shape the inner lips (labia minora) or outer lips (labia majora) of the vagina or both. The labia minora is the inner flap of skin that covers the clitoris and vagina. The labia majora is the part of the labia on the outside of the body.
What Kind of Training Does a Urogynecologist Have?
Urogynecologists have completed medical school and a four-year residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. These doctors become specialists with additional training and experience in the evaluation and treatment of conditions that affect the female pelvic organs, and the muscles and connective tissue that support the organs. The additional training focuses on the surgical and non-surgical treatment of non-cancerous gynecologic problems.
When Should I See a Urogynecologist?
Although your primary care physician or OB/GYN may have knowledge about these problems, a urogynecologist can offer additional expertise. You should see (or be referred to) a urogynecologist when you have problems of prolapse, and/or troublesome incontinence or when your primary doctor recommends consultation. Other problems for which you or your doctor might think about consulting a urogynecologist include: problems with emptying the bladder or rectum, pelvic pain and the need for special expertise in vaginal surgery.
What Treatment Options are Available from a Urogynecologist?
A urogynecologist can recommend a variety of therapies to cure or relieve symptoms of prolapse, urinary or fecal incontinence, or other pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms. He or she may advise conservative (non-surgical) or surgical therapy depending on your wishes, the severity of your condition and your general health. Conservative options include medications, pelvic exercises, behavioral and/or dietary modifications and vaginal devices (also called pessaries). Biofeedback and Electric Stimulation are two newer treatment modalities that your urogynecologist may recommend. Safe and effective surgical procedures are also utilized by the urogynecologist to treat incontinence and prolapse. He or she will discuss all of the options that are available to treat your specific problem(s) before you are asked to make a treatment decision.