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What Is Urogynecology?

A urogynecologist may specialize in treating patients dealing with urinary incontinence.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2014
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Urogynecology is a medical subspecialty which focuses on the treatment of pelvic floor disorders. The pelvic floor provides support and control for the rectum, bladder, vagina, and uterus. There are a number of disorders which can involve the pelvic floor and a urogynecologist provides complete care to a patient so that she does not need to see specialists such as gynecologists and urologists separately to receive treatment. These medical specialists may work out of hospitals or clinics, depending on the focus of their practices.

In order to become a urogynecologist, a doctor needs to complete medical school and a residency in obstetrics and gynecology or urology, followed by a fellowship in urogynecology. These years of training provide the doctor with highly specialized experience which allows the physician to address pelvic floor disorders. Many also pursue continuing education, often facilitated through membership in a professional urogynecology association which provides access to conferences, trade publications, and other materials which doctors can use to improve their quality of care and keep up with new developments in the field.

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Some examples of conditions for which a patient might be referred to a specialist in urogynecology include: urinary or fecal incontinence; fistulas; prolapse of the vagina, uterus, or vagina; pelvic pain; and congenital anomalies which involve the pelvic floor. A number of treatment options will be available through the services of a urogynecology specialist. These specialists often have access to the latest research and information and may be able to offer more options and a higher level of care.

The doctor usually starts with diagnostic tests to learn more about the patient's condition. This can include bloodwork, medical imaging studies, and more invasive testing options such as an endoscopic examination. With information from the diagnostic tests in hand, the doctor can discuss treatment options with the patient. These can include medications, surgery, and other options, depending on the nature of the disorder and the preference of the patient.

Patients are sometimes nervous about seeing a urogynecology consultant because pelvic floor disorders can result in symptoms of an embarrassing nature. It may feel awkward to discuss symptoms such as urinary incontinence. It is important to remember that these specialists have seen a wide variety of patients with similar conditions and that their goal is to offer compassionate, competent, professional care to their patients without judgment or comment. Treatment can vastly improve quality of life, as well, making it well worth the initial discomfort associated with speaking up.

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