There’s a common misconception about urologists – namely, that they only treat men.
Contrary to popular belief, however, urology is a branch of medicine that deals with the urinary health and reproductive tract of both men and women. After all, both sexes have urethras, bladders, and kidneys, and urologists are highly trained physicians who use both medication and surgery to treat problems in these and other areas regardless of one’s gender.
In fact, 40 percent of urology patients are female. The conditions their urologists specialize in include:
- Bladder control issues – These include overactive bladder (OAB) and stress and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when a physical activity – such as sneezing, coughing, running, or heavy lifting – puts pressure on the bladder, resulting in involuntary urine leakage. Urge incontinence is caused by a sudden, uncontrollable need to urinate.
- Chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs) – These are caused by bacterial infections in the urinary tract that can cause painful or frequent urination, blood in the urine, cramps, or nausea. UTIs are fairly common. In fact, one woman in five develops a UTI during her lifetime and women are 10 times more likely to have a UTI than men.
- Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome – With this condition, the walls of the bladder become inflamed and may cause frequent or painful urination, bladder pressure, pain in the bladder area, and sometimes pelvic pain. Both men and women can get painful bladder syndrome, but women are twice as likely as men, more often in middle age.
- Pelvic organ prolapse – This condition tends to affect older women. It occurs when muscles, ligaments and skin surrounding the vagina weaken, causing pelvic organs such as the bladder to shift out of their normal position.
- Urinary fistula – A fistula is an uncommon connection among any organ or intestine anywhere in the body. In the case of a urinary fistula, there is an abnormal connection between the kidney, bladder, urethra, the colon, and the vagina. As a result, feces and urine can leak from the vagina.
- Kidney stones – These occur when minerals and salts in the urine stick together and form a stone that has difficulty passing through the urinary tract, causing considerable pain. A kidney stone can be the size of a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball. While smaller kidney stones can pass with the urine flow, larger stones require medical treatment and removal.
- Chronic kidney disease – This condition affects more than 25 million Americans, many of whom are women. Most often, chronic kidney disease is linked to diabetes and high blood pressure/hypertension.
- Urethral diverticulum (UD) – This condition occurs when a pocket-like pouch forms next to the urethra. Because of its connection to the urethra, the pouch fills up with urine, causing infection. Symptoms of UD include frequent urination, an urgent need to urinate, and pain during urination. Urethral diverticulum is more common among females than men, and typically occurs between the ages of 40 and 70.
- Urological cancer – These are fairly common in older women and include bladder cancer, kidney cancer, and urethral cancer. Urological cancer is usually diagnosed early and is treatable with surgery, biological therapy, and chemotherapy.
As you can see, women may experience urological health issues that are unique to their anatomy. To learn more about effective treatments for urological conditions or to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors, please call Intercoastal Medical Group in Sarasota and Manatee County, Florida. You can also request an appointment online now.