If you’re a woman with frequent urine leaks or pelvic pain, your primary care doctor may refer you to a urogynecologist. You may be wondering if that’s the same as a urologist, and if not — what’s the difference?
Urology and Urogynecology
Urology and urogynecology are two related, but different, medical specialties. And a urologist and a urogynecologist are two different types of specialists.
What is a urologist?
A urologist is a doctor who specializes in conditions of the urinary system. Urologists treat both men and women, and in some cases children. They also diagnose and treat problems of the male reproductive system.
What is a urogynecologist?
A urogynecologist treats only women. They have special training in both urology and gynecology (the branch of medicine that deals with the female reproductive system).
A urogynecologist focuses on pelvic floor conditions. The pelvic floor consists of the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that support the pelvic organs. The pelvic organs are the bladder, vagina, uterus, and rectum.
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What Conditions Does a Urologist Treat?
A urologist treats urinary system problems in both men and women. Some have specialties like treating kidney stones, male infertility, or cancers of the urinary tract. Urologists may perform surgeries, such as vasectomies and kidney transplants.
Urologists can treat the following conditions in both men and women:
- Kidney cancer.
- Disorders of the urinary system related to spinal injuries or neurological disease.
- Kidney stones.
- Urinary tract infections.
Urologists treat the following conditions in men:
- Cancers of the reproductive system (penis, prostate, and testicles).
- Erectile dysfunction (ED).
- Low testosterone.
- Prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland).
- Peyronie’s disease (painful curving of the penis during erection).
- Urinary incontinence.
What Conditions Does a Urogynecologist Treat?
A urogynecologist has special training in treating conditions of the pelvic floor. They treat women of all ages and can perform surgery on the pelvic floor organs.
Many events in a woman’s life can weaken her pelvic floor. You may have urine leaks and pelvic pain after childbirth. As you age, incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders can become more common.
Urogynecologists can treat:
Incontinence means involuntary passing of urine or stool. Urogynecologists treat several types of incontinence.
- Stress incontinence. Common among women who’ve given birth, it happens when something puts stress on the pelvic floor. You might leak a little urine when you laugh, cough, or sneeze. Sometimes pounding exercise (like running or jumping) can cause leaks.
- Urge incontinence. These are urine leaks where you have a strong, sudden, “gotta go” feeling. The cause may be an overactive bladder that squeezes at the wrong time, causing leaks.
- Fecal incontinence. When you pass gas or stool accidentally. Because the pelvic floor supports the lower digestive tract, a urogynecologist can treat this problem.
Pelvic organ prolapse
This condition occurs when a pelvic organ drops into or pushes against the vagina. This condition is also known as a dropped bladder or dropped uterus. As women age, they are more likely to have this problem.
Urinary tract infection (UTI)
Some women are prone to recurrent UTIs. They can occur in any part of the urinary system — bladder, kidneys, ureters, or urethra.
A urogynecologist can help women with different kinds of pelvic pain, including:
- Painful bladder syndrome. A chronic condition where the walls of the bladder become inflamed.
- Pain with intercourse. Pelvic floor problems such as UTIs or pelvic organ prolapse can cause pain with sex.
Should I See a Urologist or Urogynecologist?
UPMC Magee-Womens can also provide treatment for women with urinary disorders. Visit our website to find an urogynecology expert close to you.
The UPMC Department of Urology offers a wide variety of specialized care for diseases of the male and female urinary tract and the male reproductive organs, including erectile dysfunction, kidney stones, urinary incontinence, prostate cancer, and more. We have a multifaceted team of physicians and researchers working together to provide the best care to both children and adults. Our team is nationally renowned for expertise in highly specialized technologies and minimally invasive surgical techniques. To find a provider near you, visit our website.