When to See a Specialist
If you are continuing to have issues with fecal urgency, fecal incontinence, trouble with gas control, or have symptoms of a fistula, you should ask for a referral to a urogynecologist or a colorectal surgeon. Urogynecologists treat any issues involving the entire pelvic floor while colorectal surgeons only treat issues dealing with the anus, rectum, and colon. Please refer to our list of peer recommended providers for providers in your area that women have had exceptional experiences with. The following information has been brought to you with the help of our friends at AUGS (American Urogynecological Society).
Urogynecologists are specialized doctors who receive specific training to diagnose and treat women with pelvic floor disorders (PFDs). If you are experiencing issues with incontinence or prolapse, speaking with a urogynecologist can help improve your quality of life. They can recommend various therapies to cure or alleviate symptoms associated with PFDs. It is important to choose the treatment option that best suits your lifestyle and aligns with your goals.
While your primary care physician, OB/GYN, or urologist may have some knowledge about these problems, a urogynecologist offers additional expertise in the field. If you are facing issues such as prolapse, troublesome urinary or fecal incontinence, difficulties emptying the bladder or rectum, pelvic pain, bladder pain, or fistulas, discussing a referral to a urogynecologist with your doctor is recommended. Urogynecologists specialize in the study and treatment of PFDs in women and possess extensive knowledge of the various ways these conditions can manifest. They also have expertise in vaginal surgery if necessary.
A urogynecologist completes medical school and a residency in either Obstetrics and Gynecology or Urology. These doctors undergo additional training and gain experience in evaluating and treating conditions that affect the female pelvic organs, as well as the muscles and connective tissue supporting these organs. While not all urogynecologists pursue formal fellowships, many do, focusing on the surgical and non-surgical treatment of non-cancerous gynecologic problems. Common problems addressed by urogynecologists include urinary incontinence or leakage, pelvic organ prolapse (such as vaginal, uterine, cystocele, and rectocele), and overactive bladder.
Urogynecology was approved as a certified subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties in 2011, and the first board-certified doctors in this field emerged in 2013. Urogynecologists are physicians who have completed medical school and a residency in either Obstetrics and Gynecology or Urology. They undergo additional years of fellowship training and receive certification in Urogynecology. This specialized training equips them with expertise in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating conditions affecting the muscles and connective tissue of the female pelvic organs. Common pelvic floor conditions treated by urogynecologists include urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and pelvic organ prolapse. These physicians stay updated on the latest research related to these conditions.
A board-certified urogynecologist has passed an exam conducted by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ABOG) and American Board of Urology (ABU), or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and American Osteopathic Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AOBOG), demonstrating exceptional expertise in this specialized field. The first board certification exams were conducted in 2013 by ABOG/ABU and in 2012 by AOA/AOBOG. Physicians who completed their training after 2012 (ABOG/ABU) or 2016 (AOA/AOBOG) must have participated in an accredited fellowship to be eligible for board certification.
As always, it is perfectly appropriate to inquire about the training and expertise of any doctor providing care to you.
Educational materials about pelvic floor disorders and treatments can be found in the form of downloadable guides through our friends at AUGS and PFDs. There is also a PDF on What to Expect After Surgery.