- Urologists diagnose and treat urinary tract infections, bladder control problems, fallen bladder, painful bladder syndrome, urinary stones, and cancers in females.
- Urologists can help manage recurring UTIs, urge incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, interstitial cystitis, kidney stones, and bladder cancer in women.
- Urogynecologists specialize in female urinary tract disorders like incontinence, prolapse, infections, and reproductive health issues.
- Common procedures urologists perform on women include cystoscopy, urodynamic testing, bladder sling surgery, kidney stone removal, and urinary diversion surgery.
- Women may need to see a urologist for sudden urinary problems, recurrent UTIs, pelvic pain, blood in urine, bladder leakage, or other symptoms.
Urology is a medical specialty focused on diseases and disorders of the urinary tract system and male reproductive organs. However, many women wonder – what do urologists do for females? While urologists most commonly treat males, they play an important role in women’s health as well.
This comprehensive article will analyze the range of urinary tract conditions urologists diagnose and treat in women. We will cover the most prevalent urologic problems impacting females that require the expertise of a urologist. Understanding what female urology services entail can help women seek appropriate care for urinary tract health concerns.
Gaining insight into the procedures, treatments, and surgeries urologists provide for women will illustrate their vital position in female health. Whether recurring bladder infections, pelvic discomfort, bladder leakage, or other troubling symptoms emerge, consulting a urologist may prove necessary. Read on to discover the vital functions urologists serve in evaluating and managing urologic disorders among female patients.
What Urinary Tract Problems Do Urologists Treat in Women?
Though urologic issues differ between genders, urologists have the proper training and skills to address conditions specific to females. Here are some of the most common reasons women visit urologists:
Do Urologists Treat Recurring Urinary Tract Infections in Females?
Yes, urologists play a key role in diagnosing and treating recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) in women. According to research from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), UTIs account for nearly 7 million office visits and 1 million emergency room visits in the U.S. annually.
Due to their shorter urethras, women are at greater risk for UTIs. The NHS reports that about 1 in 2 women will experience a UTI in her lifetime. Recurrent UTIs involve getting more than 3 UTIs within 12 months.
Urologists can help get to the source of why some women suffer from frequent UTIs. They may perform tests to check for potential causes like urinary tract blockages, impaired bladder emptying, ovarian cysts, or other factors that increase UTI risk.
Based on test findings and culture analysis, urologists will prescribe appropriate antibiotic medications to clear infection-causing bacteria. For recurring UTIs, they may provide preventative antibiotics, evaluate the need for minor surgery, or offer recommendations on lifestyle changes to lower UTI frequency.
Can Urologists Treat Urinary Incontinence and Bladder Leaks in Females?
Yes, urologists are trained to evaluate and manage urinary incontinence and bladder control problems in women. Urinary incontinence involves any uncontrolled leakage of urine. It affects around 25 million adult women in the U.S., per NIH estimates.
The two main types that impact women are stress and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence causes urine to leak when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or doing physical activity. Urge incontinence leads to sudden bladder contractions and the inability to reach the toilet in time.
Urologists can perform specialized tests like a post-void residual test to measure urinary retention after voiding. They may also order sophisticated urodynamic testing to precisely identify the type of incontinence and determine optimal treatments.
Based on test results, urologists may recommend Kegel exercises, bladder training techniques, pelvic floor therapy, medications, minimally invasive procedures, or surgeries like a bladder sling or Botox injections to resolve bladder leaks.
Do Urologists Treat Fallen Bladder or Pelvic Organ Prolapse in Females?
Yes, urologists can diagnose and treat pelvic organ prolapse conditions like fallen bladder in women. This disorder, also called cystocele, occurs when weakened pelvic floor muscles cause the bladder to drop and protrude into the vagina.
According to the Urogynecologic Association, around 3% of women will undergo surgery for pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime. Childbirth, menopause, aging, and hysterectomy are among risk factors.
Signs include a feeling of bladder pressure or fullness, urinary problems, discomfort during intercourse, and a bulging sensation. Urologists can do a pelvic exam to check for prolapse and assess its extent.
Initial treatments may involve Kegel exercises, pessaries, and estrogen therapy. However, urologists may perform surgical reinforcement of pelvic tissues if conservative options fail. Procedures like cystocele repair restore proper bladder positioning.
Can Urologists Treat Painful Bladder Syndrome in Females?
Yes, urologists can help diagnose and manage painful bladder syndrome/interstitial cystitis (PBS/IC) in women. This chronic condition causes bladder pressure, pelvic pain, and urinary urgency. Around 3-6 million women suffer from PBS/IC in the U.S., reports the American Urological Association.
Urologists rely on past medical history, urinalysis, physical exam, imaging tests, and cystoscopy to diagnose PBS/IC. Treatment focuses on minimizing symptoms and may involve diet changes, stress management, oral medications, nerve stimulation, hydrodistension, and bladder instillations.
In severe refractory cases, urologists may recommend cyclosporine therapy, Botox injections into the bladder muscles, or surgery to increase bladder capacity. They work to develop an integrated treatment plan tailored to the individual patient’s symptoms and needs.
Do Urologists Treat Kidney Stones in Females?
Yes, urologists play an integral role in treating kidney stones in women. Around 1 in 11 women will develop a kidney stone in her lifetime, according to the National Kidney Foundation. Stones form when high mineral concentrations crystallize in urine.
Symptoms of kidney stones include intense abdominal and flank pain, bloody urine, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills, and urinary urgency. Urologists will order imaging tests to confirm the stone’s presence and size.
Small stones may pass naturally with pain medications and drinking more fluids. For larger stones, urologists may break up the stones or remove them. Procedures include shock wave lithotripsy, ureteroscopy, nephrolithotomy, or minimally invasive percutaneous nephrolithotomy.
Urologists also analyze passed stones to determine the composition and provide preventive recommendations. Follow-up care helps lower recurrence risk through diet and lifestyle changes that affect urinary chemistry.
Do Urologists Treat Bladder Cancer in Females?
Yes, urologists play a vital role in detecting and treating bladder cancer in women. Bladder cancer accounts for 3-4% of all new cancer cases among U.S. women, per the American Cancer Society. Risk rises with age and tobacco use.
Common symptoms include blood in urine, frequent urination, sudden urges to urinate, pelvic pain, and back pain. Urologists rely on urine tests, cystoscopy, and imaging scans to diagnose bladder cancer.
Early-stage bladder cancer is highly treatable. Urologists may surgically remove small tumors or use chemotherapy or immunotherapy drugs directly in the bladder. More extensive or recurring cancers could require partial bladder removal.
For advanced bladder cancer, treatment may involve removing the entire bladder (radical cystectomy). In such cases, urologists can perform surgery to construct a new bladder (neobladder) for urine storage.
What Procedures Do Urologists Perform on Women?
Urologists employ a variety of diagnostic and treatment procedures to manage complex urologic disorders in female patients. Some of the most common procedures urologists conduct on women include:
- Cystoscopy – A small instrument with a camera is inserted into the urethra to visually examine the bladder lining and urethra. It helps detect UTIs, cancers, stones, and other abnormalities.
- Urodynamic Testing – This involves bladder filling studies and muscle contraction measurements to evaluate urinary function and identify bladder abnormalities or incontinence causes.
- Bladder Sling Surgery – A small mesh sling is inserted under the urethra and attached to pelvic bones or muscles to lift and support weakened muscles causing incontinence.
- Transurethral Surgery – A cystoscope instrument allows the surgeon to view and access the interior of the bladder to remove bladder tumors, stones, or other obstructions.
- Kidney Stone Removal – Stones may be broken up with shock wave lithotripsy or directly removed using ureteroscopy or percutaneous nephrolithotomy techniques.
- Urinary Diversion Surgery – When the bladder is removed (cystectomy), urologists can create a pouch from intestinal tissue to collect and drain urine externally or through stoma sites.
Urologists may also inject chemodenervation agents like Botox into the bladder muscle to treat an overactive bladder. For pelvic organ prolapse, they can surgically reposition and secure the bladder and other structures in their proper anatomical alignment.
When Should Women See a Urologist?
Many females only visit a urologist when referred by their primary care physician or gynecologist for specific urinary tract problems. However, women may consider seeing a urologist if they experience any of the following symptoms:
- Recurrent UTIs with 3 or more infections yearly
- Increased bladder frequency, urgency, pressure, or retention issues
- Persistent pelvic, abdominal, flank or bladder pain
- Blood in the urine or abnormal discharge
- Inability to fully empty the bladder
- Unexpected urine leakage or dribbling
- Bulging feeling in the vagina from pelvic organ prolapse
- Pain or difficulty urinating
Any sudden or concerning urinary tract symptoms in women should prompt medical attention. A urologist has specialized expertise in diagnosing the underlying condition through appropriate tests. They can provide necessary treatments or therapies to resolve urologic problems and improve quality of life.
While urology has historically focused on male patients, urologists play a vital and expanding role in women’s health. They diagnose and treat a wide array of urinary tract conditions that can impact females.
Urologic disorders like recurrent UTIs, incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, interstitial cystitis, kidney stones, and bladder cancer affect millions of women each year. Urologists have the skills and knowledge to appropriately evaluate concerning urinary symptoms. They offer medical, minimally invasive, and surgical treatment options to effectively manage female urologic dysfunctions.
Understanding what female urology services involve helps women seek appropriate urologic care when needed. Connecting with a urologist experienced in female urinary and pelvic disorders provides access to the latest diagnostic tests, individualized treatment plans, and innovative surgical techniques. If urinary problems emerge, women can find dedicated and compassionate urologic care tailored to their unique needs and circumstances.