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A urogynecologist is a doctor who specializes in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction in women. This type of doctor must diagnose and treat a variety of issues, including prolapse and incontinence problems. A urogynecologist must have many years of specialized education and training to practice this type of medicine. He or she works in a variety of settings, ranging from a private practice to a hospital.
As opposed to a urologist, a gynecologist or an obstetrician, a urogynecologist focuses only on a few procedures dealing with the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor includes all of the nerves, tissues and ligaments that support the bladder, vagina, uterus and rectum. Pelvic floors frequently are damaged by childbirth, heavy lifting, disease and surgery. The two primary issues that arise with the pelvic floor are urinary incontinence and prolapse.
Urinary incontinence is a common disorder that results in a leakage of urine. A urogynecologist must be able to spot the symptoms of this disorder by asking the patient questions and performing an examination. Treatment consists of a variety of medication and surgical options.
Prolapse refers to the displacement of female organs. A urogynecologist must spot the falling, sagging and bulging of female organs by performing a series of tests on the patient. The doctor also must know the different ways to treat these disorders in order to help the patient live a healthy life. No matter the issue facing the patient, the doctor must frequently follow up with patients to check on recovery progress.
A urogynecologist can work in any of various professional environments. Private gynecological practices often have one or more urogynecological specialists on hand and often see only the patients that colleagues refer to them. Some urogynecologists work independently and must build up connections with other doctors in order to get referrals. Many others are part of a hospital staff and treat hospital patients with pelvic disorders.
Education is the cornerstone for any urogynecologist. A bachelor's degree in pre-medicine or biology is a common gateway into medical school. After entering medical school, he or she must complete a three- to four-year residency in urology or in obstetrics and gynecology. In addition to this residency, he or she must complete a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Pelvic Surgery in order to become an expert in the female pelvis. After these educational requirements are met, he or she must pass a board certification examination to become a urogynecologist.