Doctors termed urogynecologists, or urogyns, have special training in the diagnosis and treatment of females having pelvic floor disorders. Even with your primary care physician, OB/GYN, or urologist having knowledge of these conditions, a urogyn has more expertise. Speak to your GP about a urogyn referral if you have prolapse issues or are experiencing urinary or fecal incontinence. As well, if you have trouble with bladder or bowel movement, or if you have bladder or pelvic pain, a urogyn can definitely help.
Defining a Urogynecologist
Urogynecologists are graduates of medical school and a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology or Urology. These physicians are specialists who had additional training and experience in diagnosing and treating conditions that involve organs in the female pelvic area, together with all the attached muscles and connective tissue. Urogynecologists generally go through formal fellowships (more training after residency) that deals with non-cancerous gynecologic issues, either through surgery or non-surgical treatment. Common problems handled by a urogynecologist include urinary leakage or incontinence, bladder overactivity and pelvic organ (vagina, uterus, etc.) prolapse.
Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery
In 2011, the American Board of Medical Specialties approved as a certified subspecialty Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery; and within two years, the ABMS certified the country’s first batch of urogyns. As part of the requirements of maintaining their status as certified urogyns, these doctors take ongoing education courses to keep their knowledge current.
Board Certified Urogynecologist or Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeon
A doctor who is board-certified in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery is someone who has passed examinations conducted by at least two medical boards, namely, the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ABOG) and the American Board of Urology (ABU). Or it can also mean that the doctor has passed exams given by the American Osteopathic Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AOBOG) and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Whichever applies in the situation, board certification is the only proof that a doctor is a tested and proven urogyn.
The first board certification exams by the ABOG/ABU were conducted in 2013. Doctors who finished their training after 2012 usually participated in an accredited fellowship as a requirement board exam eligibility. As stated earlier, the AOA/AOBOG conducted their first certification exams in urogynecology just a year prior to the first ABOG/ABU exams.
As always, never hesitate to ask about a urogynecologist’s training and expertise before deciding to enter their care. While there are many equally credentialed urogynecologists today, there will always be nuances among them that you should be familiar with as a potential patient. Come up with a shortlist of prospects and dig up some information online about each of them. This can go a long way in finding a urogynecologist who is not only competent but will also treat you a person instead of just a case.