Many people feel embarrassed when it comes to discussing their "below the belt" health with a physician.
Women often believe that a primary care physician and an OB/GYN are the only healthcare providers they will ever need.
These providers can address most concerns, but there are instances where seeing a urologist is more beneficial. Despite urology being commonly associated with men's healthcare, there are situations where women may also require the expertise of a urologist.
What is a Urologist?
While urologists are commonly associated with men's healthcare, women can also require their expertise for various conditions.
Urologists specialize in the urinary tract and male reproductive organs, including the kidneys, bladder, urethra, penis, testes and prostate.
Some urologists have specialized training in treating women's urinary and reproductive needs, known as urogynecology. While gynecologists and obstetricians focus on reproductive health, urogynecologists can assist with specific women's issues.
If you're dealing with certain concerns, seeking a urologist may be the best option.
Urinary tract infections
Both men and women can suffer from urinary tract infections (UTI).
If they are a recurring issue for a woman, a urologist is a good option.
Recurrent UTIs are typically defined as two or more infections within six months or three within one year. Contributing factors for recurrent UTIs include diabetes, some contraceptives, family history, incomplete emptying of the bladder, urinary tract abnormalities and others.
Most UTIs can be treated without specialist intervention, but recurring UTIs require further evaluation.
Women have complicated reproductive and urinary systems. Pelvic organ prolapses should be treated by a specialist.
Pelvic organ prolapse is the weakening of the vaginal area, causing the uterus, bladder, urethra and vagina to shift from their positions in the body. The surrounding vaginal muscles serve as a support system to maintain proper placement.
Prolapses can be caused by childbirth, hysterectomy or menopause. Treatment options depend on symptoms and the severity of the prolapse, ranging from physical therapy to strengthen pelvic muscles, using a pessary or opting for surgical intervention.
Kidney stones can be a painful and debilitating issue.
Kidney stones are hard mineral and salt formations that develop in the kidneys. Symptoms include severe side and lower back pain, burning during urination and blood in the urine.
While passing kidney stones can be excruciating, some may pass unnoticed.
Drinking plenty of water helps in passing kidney stones, and healthcare providers may prescribe medication to reduce urine acidity.
Non-invasive treatments — like shock-wave lithotripsy — break stones into smaller pieces for easier passage. In some cases, a ureteroscopy may retrieve the stone using an endoscope.
Surgery may be necessary for larger stones.
Urinary incontinence/nighttime urination
Loss of bladder control — whether awake or sleeping — can be an unsettling experience.
It’s important to remember that discussing it with a healthcare provider is crucial.
These conditions are more common in women and can be caused by factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and other issues. Symptoms range from minor leakage to an inability to control urination, affecting daily life and overall quality of life.
Seeking medical attention for urinary incontinence or nighttime urination is as important as addressing a common cold or flu.
Incontinence can be resolved without surgery, but it typically does not resolve on their own and can indicate underlying healthcare issues. Healthcare providers are trained to listen to concerns without judgment.
Find more about our urology services at WestGeorgiaUrology.org.