In the 1970s and 1980s, most gynecologists could treat pelvic floor disorders. As time went on, they began to see women mostly for their primary needs. Then, gynecologists received less specialized training on issues regarding the pelvic floor.
The first board-accredited fellowship program for advanced training in urogynecology started in 1996. By 2010, there were 37 accredited fellowship programs and the membership in societies associated with urogynecology doubled in size.
What is urogynecology?
Urogynecology is a subspecialty of gynecology, specializing in pelvic issues. The pelvic floor is composed of muscles, ligaments, nerves, and connective tissues that support pelvic organs and assists in function control.
What is a urogynecologist?
Your primary care physician, OB/GYN, or urologist may be well-educated on pelvic issues, but a urogynecologist offers expertise on the subject. Your OB/GYN may be able to provide routine care for simple pelvic floor issues, but they will often refer you to a urogynecologist if the problems become complex.
Urogynecologists are specialists with extensive training and experience in evaluating and treating conditions that affect the female pelvic organs, along with the muscles and connective tissue that support the organs. After medical school, they complete a four-year residency in obstetrics and gynecology and will spend three more years in specialized training in urogynecology. After medical school, they have a total of seven years of training. Urogynecologists must also pass an exam to become Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPRMS) certified.
What conditions can be treated by urogynecologists?
If you are struggling with urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, or pelvic floor disorders (like pelvic organ prolapse), a urogynecologist can help. In fact, one out of three women will experience one of these conditions at some point. The most common disorders that urogynecologists treat are stress urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and pelvic organ prolapse.
Any of the muscles, ligaments, and tissues that support the bladder, urethra, uterus, vagina, small bowel, and rectum in the pelvic area are part of the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor disorders involve a weak support for those organs, which may lead to prolapse.
When the pelvic floor becomes weakened or stretched due to childbirth, obesity, surgery, disease, or certain activities (like high-impact sports or repetitive heavy lifting), pelvic floor diseases may occur. Treatment approaches will depend on the severity of the symptoms and patient’s health. Nonsurgical therapies are normally the first approach, but surgery may be an option in more extreme cases.
Contact the Institute for Women’s Health
If you are looking for a urogynecologist, look no further! The Institute for Women’s Health has seven locations around San Antonio to provide you with convenient access to the best obstetrics and gynecology physicians. If you would like to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please contact our office at (210) 34-WOMAN or (210) 349-6626.