What is urogynecology? Breaking down the taboo topics

Women's Health
A female doctor talks with her patient

Let's face it, certain health conditions are simply not comfortable to talk about. They can make us feel embarrassed or ashamed and, as a result, we may avoid seeking help altogether.

However, when it comes to urogynecology, these conditions are not only common but can significantly impact our daily lives.

"Urogynecology is a specialized field of medicine "So let's explore why seeking help is crucial to your overall health and well-being."

What is urogynecology and what conditions are commonly treated?

Urogynecology is a specialized field of medicine that focuses on diagnosing and treating disorders related to the pelvic floor — a complex system of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that supports the bladder, uterus and vagina. Urogynecologists are specialists who are trained to diagnose and treat conditions of the pelvic floor, such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

Risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing a urogynecological issue can include:

  • Childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Obesity
  • Chronic conditions such as constipation or persistent cough

"In some cases, these conditions be prevented with lifestyle changes or exercise," says Mitchell Berger, MD, PhD. "Regular physical activity and pelvic floor exercises can help to strengthen these muscles and manage symptoms, while dietary changes can improve certain urogynecological issues related to obesity or constipation."

Talk with your doctor before beginning any at-home treatment or prevention methods.

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a condition where an individual experiences involuntary leakage of urine. "This can happen due to weak pelvic floor muscles or damage to the nerves that control the bladder," says Dr. Berger.

Urinary incontinence can be embarrassing and impact an individual's quality of life, and it's crucial to note that it's not a normal part of aging. Just as important? Knowing there are many treatment options available.

Making lifestyle changes such as limiting caffeine and alcohol intake, losing weight and practicing pelvic floor rehabilitation can help improve symptoms. There are also medications available that can help manage urinary incontinence. For some individuals, surgery may be necessary to correct the issue.

Pelvic organ prolapse

Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition that can occur when the muscles and connective tissues in the pelvic floor become weakened, causing the organs to sag or drop into the vaginal canal. This can be uncomfortable and cause pain, discomfort or difficulty with bowel movements or sexual activity.

"Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include pressure or fullness in the pelvic area, a bulge or lump in the vagina and difficulty urinating or having a bowel movement," says Dr. Berger. "While it can be challenging to talk about, seeking health care is crucial to managing this condition."

Treatment options for pelvic organ prolapse can include pelvic floor exercises or vaginal pessaries, which are are small devices that are inserted into the vagina to provide support to the pelvic organs. Surgery may also be necessary for more severe cases of pelvic organ prolapse.

While it can be uncomfortable to talk about these conditions, seeking help from a urogynecologist is essential for your overall health and well-being.

Overcoming the stigma and seeking help for pelvic floor conditions

The stigma surrounding urogynecological conditions can make it challenging for individuals to seek help. Many people feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about their symptoms, leading them to suffer in silence and avoid seeking medical attention. However, it's crucial to remember that these conditions are common and treatable.

"Find a health care provider who specializes in urogynecology and feels comfortable discussing these topics," says Dr, Berger. "They can help diagnose and treat the condition and provide resources and support."

In addition to seeking help from a health care provider, there are many resources available online, such as support groups and educational materials. These resources can provide individuals with the knowledge and support they need to manage their condition and improve their quality of life. Don't let the stigma surrounding urogynecological conditions prevent you from seeking help and improving your overall health and quality of life.

Next steps:

Make an appointment with says Mitchell Berger, MD, PhD
Learn more about advanced gynecology at Main Line Health 
Multispecialty team offers whole-person care for complex gynecologic issues