Similar to lawyers, doctors at times use too many technical terms. In some cases this terminology is helpful. Other times, the jargon leads to confusion.
As a patient it’s important for you to be well educated and have a clear understanding of what we’re talking about and what type of doctor you need to see.
One area that is very confusing . . . urogynecology vs. urology. Urogynecology sounds like the love child of a part-time urologist and part-time gynecologist (this is not entirely inaccurate).
Let’s review the differences between urogynecology vs. urology so you as the patient can best decide the right doctor for you.
What is Urogynecology?
Urogynecology is the field of medicine which cross-sections urology and gynecology. In 2011, the American Board of Medical Specialties approved Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS), also known as urogynecology, as a certified subspecialty in 2011.
- Only treats women
- Focuses on disorders of the pelvic floor (e.g. incontinence, prolapse, urinary difficulties)
- Completed a residency training program in urology OR obstetrics/gynecology (OB/GYN)
- Completed a FPMRS fellowship after residency training.
In other words, a urogynecologist is a female urology specialist.
Unlike a traditional OB/GYN, most urogynecologists will not deal with obstetrics (fancy doctor term for the medical field of delivering babies) nor with urology issues outside of the female bladder and lady business.
A urogynecologist still has an ability to treat conditions related to their original specialty (OB/GYN or urology). But, they have chosen to focus on female urology conditions.
In comparison, a urologist treats all conditions of the male and female urinary tract along with issues related to the male genitalia. Most people think of a urologist as “the old man” doctor. However, urologists treat women for:
- Urinary tract infections
- Kidney stones
- Bladder and kidney cancer
- Urinary incontinence
Many urologists are experienced in treating the same conditions as a urogynecologist. In some instances, a urologist without a FPMRS fellowship can have the same expertise as a urogynecologist.
When Should I See A Urogynecologist vs. Urologist?
If you are a woman suffering from any of the following conditions, then it may be time for a urogynecology visit:
- Bothersome bladder leakage
- Pelvic organ prolapse (bladder bulging)
- Bowel leakage
- Bladder, vaginal or pelvic pain
- Female sexual dysfunction
Deciding on seeing a doctor of urogynecology vs. urology can be a matter of personal preference and access. Urogynecologists who have completed a FPMRS fellowship are in high demand and short supply. Also you should never compromise on bedside manner. Don’t feel obligated to continue seeing any doctor who you don’t like.
A urologist can be a female urology specialist and treat these conditions as well. A quick online search will help you determine their reputation and interest level in treating female urology conditions.
If you’re still confused, you can always start with a telemedicine visit VirtuCare. Our board-certified urologists can guide you through an initial evaluation. If you need a hands-on approach, then we can help you find the best female urology specialist in your area.
Do I Have To Be Referred To See A Urogynecologist?
Depending on your insurance company requirements, a referral may be required before seeing a urogynecologist. But most of the time, a referral is not necessary. Most patients these days are making healthcare decisions including booking appointments on their own.
With a telemedicine visit you can book your own appointment online without calling anyone!
More important than a referral are records from any previous pelvic surgeries or evaluations with other urogynecologists, urologists or gynecologists. Reviewing the details of tests or operations can help a urogynecologist make the best recommendation and potentially avoid repeating unnecessary tests.
What To Expect At An Appointment With A Urogynecologist
Whether you are seeing a urogynecologist vs.urologist, you can expect the follow things to happen at your appointment:
- Detailed history of your condition including review of any outside records
- Physical exam including a pelvic (lady business) exam
- Urine sample
Depending upon your specific condition, further testing may be required. Urodynamics or bladder function tests are often used to better assess any urinary difficulties. Both urogynecologists and urologists can perform this testing.
Don’t forget that like other appointments, it’s important to bring your insurance card and a list of your current medications. Oh and don’t forget to expect paperwork, waiting, more paperwork and you guessed it, more waiting.
With VirtuCare telemedicine visits, these inconveniences can be avoided.
What Treatments Will a Urogynecologist Offer?
Depending on your medical condition, a urogynecologist or female urology specialist may recommend:
- Medications for an overactive bladder
- Pessary placement for pelvic prolapse
- Sacral neuromodulation or bladder botox injections
- Sling placement for stress incontinence
- Pelvic reconstruction
Urogynecologist vs. Urologist: Closing Thoughts
Medical jargon isn’t just difficult to pronounce, it can also be confusing. Hopefully now you see that the urogynecologist vs. urologist comparison makes more sense.
Again think of a urogynecologist as a female urology specialist who ONLY treats non-cancerous lady business issues. In comparison a urologist usually treats all conditions of the male and female urinary tract and male genitalia.
If you’re not sure where to start then here at VirtuCare we can help. Not only are telemedicine visits convenient, we can make sure you get the care you deserve. We can provide initial recommendations and make sure you see the correct in-person surgeon for your issue.
Speaking of making sure you see the right doctor, if you enjoyed this content, then you should also check out our post on the differences between urologist vs. nephrologist.
At VirtuCare we are trying to make healthcare a little easier.