Urogynecologist vs Gynecologist: What’s the Difference?

When female issues arise it’s sometimes hard to know who to turn to in order to seek help. We typically rely on a gynecologist for day-to-day problems including menses, fertility, birth control and the overall health of our vagina. But what do you do if you have a problem that falls out of those categories? Maybe you have incontinence or you’ve noticed a vaginal bulge.

In these instances, a more specialized physician, a urogynecologist, may be the more appropriate person to see to diagnose and treat the problem.

Gynecologist are physicians who specialize in the female reproductive system. Women typically see these types of doctors for routine annual well woman exams, which include pap smears, STD screening, testing for vaginal infections and overall health of the female anatomy. These physicians can also help with family planning, including birth control options and if your gynecologist is an obstetrician they will also follow you through the stages of pregnancy. Some gynecologists will treat mild prolapse and incontinence but for the most part these problems are better suited to be treated by a urogynecologist.

So what is a urogynecologist? A urogynecologist is a physician who specializes in disorders of the pelvic floor. The most common issues that fall into this category are incontinence and prolapse. Many women notice these symptoms after vaginal deliveries but other factors that can contribute to the development of these problems include heredity as well as chronic straining with constipation. Women who have prolapse may notice heaviness or pressure vaginally or in advanced cases, an actual vaginal bulge. A urogynecologist works to restore the pelvic floor anatomy that has weakened due to the above causes. Common interventions include midurethral slings for incontinence or less invasive treatments including laser or radiofrequency (RFA) treatment to help with urinary leakage. For prolapse (vaginal bulge), noninvasive treatments include pelvic floor physical therapy, RFA and laser and in more advanced cases surgical treatment to restore the normal anatomy.

As a female, navigating issues that arise can often times be scary and leave you wondering who you should seek assistance from. If you are unsure, you can always ask your gynecologist and they can typically recommend coming in for evaluation or refer you for further treatment. Never hesitate to reach out to Austin Urogynecology if you are unsure as we can also help to ensure that you are appropriately evaluated in a timely manner.

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