When Should I See a Urogynecologist?
Picture this: You are on a fabulous date night with your significant other and the evening has come to a close. Just when you think everything is perfect, you begin to experience pain during intercourse. If this scenario sounds familiar, it may be time to see a urogynecologist.
You’re probably wondering, “What is a urogynecologist?” or “What does a urogynecologist do?” A urogynecologist is a specialist who has completed training in both gynecology and urology. Urogynecologists help women treat incontinence (either stress or urge-induced); prolapse of uterus, bladder, or cervix; urinary tract infections (UTIs); and other conditions. All of these issues can be impacted by the health of the pelvic floor, which includes ligaments, muscles, connective tissue, and nerves that keep the uterus, bladder, rectum, and vagina in place.
When the pelvic floor is torn or damaged, it may be time to see a urogynecologist to address the condition. Doing so can help relieve pain during sex and urination, as well as pain in the lower back area and pelvic discomfort. However, before you can determine whether a urogynecologist fits your needs, it’s important to learn more about what a urogynecologist does.
Urogynecologist vs Gynecologist
Most women see their gynecologist at least once per year unless they are pregnant or are treating additional medical conditions. However, many gynecology patients do not know the difference between urogynecologists and gynecologists. While it’s easy to assume that gynecologists treat everything a urogynecologist does, it’s better to see a urogynecologist for certain health problems.
For starters, most women will visit a gynecologist at least once a year for routine gynecological health checkups. These professionals are medical doctors who specialize in women’s health and focus on the female reproductive system. They cover pregnancy and childbirth, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), hormone disorders, as well as fertility and menstruation issues.
Urogynecologists, however, have a wider range of experience treating all conditions of the female urinary tract and reproductive system. In addition to four years of training in gynecology, urogynecologists have three additional years of specialized training in pelvic floor health and pelvic reconstructive surgery.
If you are experiencing a problem related to your pelvic floor, such as a bladder prolapse or overactive bladder syndrome, a urogynecologist can develop a tailored treatment plan for you. This may involve a nurse practitioner, a physician assistant, and a physical therapist for specific pelvic floor exercises.
When Should I See a Urogynecologist and What Should I Expect?
Now that you understand what a urogynecologist does, it’s important to know when to schedule an appointment with one. To do this, be honest with yourself. Have you been taking a few more trips to the restroom recently, or do you feel like your bladder is never truly empty? Are you dealing with back pain or discomfort during intercourse? If so, it may be time for a trip to your local urogynecologist.
If this is your first visit with a urogynecologist, they will start by asking about your medical history. Many factors contribute to pelvic floor disorders, so it’s important to mention anything you think might be relevant. Some things to discuss are past births; your age, weight, and genetics; whether you’ve recently done strenuous activity; whether you’ve experienced chronic coughing or constipation; and several other factors. Your urogynecologist will run through the gamut of potential considerations.
Next, you and the doctor will have an open and honest conversation about any symptoms you’re experiencing. These may include incontinence, vaginal bulges, pelvic pain, or any other relevant concerns. Afterward, your doctor will perform a pelvic and/or rectal exam. This will help them make a proper diagnosis to prescribe the appropriate treatment plan.
After this exam, your urogynecologist will either diagnose your issue and prescribe treatment or order more tests to reach a more accurate diagnosis. These tests may include an ultrasound, cystoscopy, bladder lining exam, colonoscopy, or urodynamics.
Many people assume that gynecologists and urogynecologists treat the same issues, but they often do not learn otherwise until after they are referred to a urogynecologist by their gynecologist. Remember, urogynecologists specialize in gynecology with additional training in urology. If you want to learn more about conditions treated by urogynecologists or have questions about your health concerns, speak with someone at Advanced Gynecology to learn more.