Dr. Ramzi Aboujaoude, board certified urogynecologist at the Urogynecology Center at VPFW, answers FAQs about the reasons why you would see a urogynecologist and how urogynecologists can help women find a better quality of life.
I have always been interested in how to solve a major problem with a simple solution. That is what drew me to urogynecology while studying medicine and training around the world.
In 2013, I was thrilled to start the Urogynecology Center at VPFW. The medical problems I treat here are very common, but they are also personal and may not come up in conversation with friends. With that in mind, I’d like to answer a few frequently asked questions and show how urogynecologists can help women achieve a better quality of life.
What is a urogynecologist?
At its core, urogynecology is the combination of urology and gynecology. A health professional who specializes in these areas may be referred to as a gynecological urologist, or a urogynecologist.
Urogynecologists are specialists with training and expertise in the evaluation and treatment of conditions that affect the female pelvic organs and the muscles and connective tissue that support them. They complete a residency in obstetrics and gynecology (my chosen path) or in urology, followed by a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery – that’s the long name for urogynecology.
What is the difference between a gynecologist and a urogynecologist?
Gynecologists are health professionals that focus solely on the female reproductive system, while urogynecologists specialize in disorders and conditions regarding the pelvic floorGynecologists will usually refer patients to a urogynecologist for treatment of pelvic floor disorders like incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse (when organs in the pelvis drop from their normal position into the vagina) because they are highly specialized in this area of women’s health.
You started as an OB/GYN. How did you decide to go into urogynecology?
Urogynecology is a new specialty trying to solve an existing problem: pelvic floor disorders that interfere with women’s quality of life. As a urogynecologist who is also an OB/GYN, I am well-versed on the female anatomy and changes a woman’s body goes through during the reproductive years and beyond. In urogynecology, I can apply that expertise to solve more specific problems of the pelvic floor. I enjoy the daily challenge of finding easier and more conservative treatments to help women feel better and more confident every day.
What are the causes of pelvic floor disorders?
There are many causes of pelvic floor problems, including pregnancy and childbirth, overuse of the pelvic muscles (such as repeated heavy lifting or pushing too hard when you use the bathroom), pelvic surgery, being overweight, and aging.
What are the most common urogynecology conditions?
When we analyze the pelvic floor conditions and disorders that lead to needing to see a urogynecologist, they’re often accompanied by one – or more – of the following symptoms:
- Urinary and fecal incontinence
- Overactive bladder
- Pelvic organ prolapse, usually of the uterus, bladder, or rectum
- Interstitial cystitis
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Vaginal fistulas, or an unusual opening connecting your vagina to another organ
When should I see a urogynecologist?
It’s time to visit a urogynecologist when you feel like your pelvic floor issues are affecting your quality of life. If you experience bladder leakage when you laugh, cough or sneeze, frequently need to use the restroom or don’t make it in time, wake up several times a night to use the bathroom, experience painful intercourse, or feel discomfort like you are sitting on a small ball, it may be time to schedule a visit.
Many women believe their pelvic floor problems are part of the aging process that they will just have to live with, but these conditions can be treated relatively easily in many cases.
Is surgery the main form of treatment?
We evaluate each patient to develop a treatment plan based on their individual needs. We always start with medically conservative treatment. Simple diet modification and pelvic floor therapy can be very helpful. More advanced treatment like medication or administration of local treatment can be a next step.
Surgery is usually the last resort. If we need to proceed with surgery, we use the most advanced tools to reduce risk and complications and enhance recovery. We mainly use minimally invasive surgery even for major procedures, and it’s usually a same-day surgery with speedy recovery. The goal is always to improve quality of life, and the surgery has to fit this objective.
You don’t have to suffer through urogynecology conditions in silence.
If you’re experiencing a pelvic floor problem, you are not alone, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed. The team at the Urogynecology Center at VPFW has helped so many women find relief when they did not think it was possible. Our goal is to help women get back to living free of worry and discomfort.