Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital December 13, 2012
As a woman, you might notice it when you laugh, cough or sneeze — a small amount of urine leakage that is more than bothersome, it’s distressing. Urinary incontinence affects 30 to 50 percent of women, yet many are too embarrassed to seek help or believe that nothing can be done. But help is available.
Doctors known as urogynecologists specialize in treating this common yet sensitive condition. They also treat other gynecologic conditions that affect the female pelvic organs and the muscles and tissues supporting these organs. Examples of other conditions they treat include pelvic organ prolapse, frequent and sudden urges to urinate (overactive bladder), recurrent urinary tract infections, and bladder pain (interstitial cystitis).
Pelvic floor conditions can significantly impact a woman’s quality of life, resulting in embarrassment, discomfort, and a disruption to their daily activities. These conditions are experienced often by women who have had children and are in menopause, though they can affect women of all ages. These conditions are also more common than you may realize. The American Urogynecologic Association estimates that one in three women suffers from pelvic floor conditions.
Urogynecologists are uniquely qualified to treat pelvic floor conditions. They complete medical school, a residency in obstetrics and gynecology, and receive additional specialized training, explains Dr. Vatche Minassian, Chief, Division of Urogynecology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Treatment options for pelvic floor conditions include more than surgery. Dr. Minassian notes that there are also more conservative options, such as exercise, physical therapy, medication, or the use of simple devices such as pessaries. Even if surgery is needed, many procedures can be done on an outpatient basis. An experienced urogynecologist has the ability to listen, empathize and help women thoughtfully evaluate treatment options.
Learn more about urogynecologists and common urogynecologic conditions:
- What is a Urogynecologist?
- No Need to Stress About Stress Urinary Incontinence
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Common Yet Misunderstood
- Overcoming the Challenges of Living with Interstitial Cystitis
- Overactive Bladder: Tired of the Interruptions?