Urogynecology is a sub-specialty of Gynecology, and in some countries is also known as Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. An urogynecologist manages clinical problems associated with dysfunction of the pelvic floor and bladder. Pelvic floor disorders affect the bladder, reproductive organs, and bowels. Common pelvic floor disorders include urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and fecal incontinence.
What is pelvic floor disorder?
Pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) are a group of conditions that affect the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor includes the muscles, ligaments and connective tissue in the lowest part of the pelvis. It supports your organs, including the bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. The pelvic floor prevents these organs from falling down or out of your body. It also helps the organs function properly.
A pelvic floor disorder occurs when women have weakened pelvic muscles or tears in the connective tissue due to excessive strain on the pelvis due to childbirth, repeated strenuous activity, menopause, chronic disease, or pelvic surgery. Other factors that can weaken the pelvic floor include repetitive heavy lifting, tobacco use, and genetics.
The following are some problems that arise from damage to the pelvic floor:
1. Incontinence: loss of bladder or bowel control, leakage of urine or feces.
2. Prolapse: descent of pelvic organs; a bulge and/or pressure; ‘dropped uterus, Bladder, vagina or rectum.’
3. Emptying Disorders: difficulty urinating or moving bowels.
4. Pain: discomfort to the lower back, pelvis or bladder and/or urethra.
5. Overactive Bladder: frequent need to void, bladder pressure, urgency, urge Incontinence (difficulty holding back urine when having the urge to urinate)
6. Fistulas: abnormal hole between the vagina and rectum (rectovaginal), vagina and urethra (urethrovaginal), or vagina and the bladder (vesicovaginal).
Who is an urogynecologist?
An urogynecologist is a surgeon who has specialized in the care of women with pelvic floor disorders. These doctors are 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. Pelvic floor conditions that urogynecologists commonly treat include urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and pelvic organ prolapse.