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Urogynecologists and How Do They Differ from Your OB-Gynecologists

Doctors known as urogynecologists, or urogyns, get special training for diagnosing and treating women who have pelvic floor disorders. While your primary care physician, OB/GYN, or urologist may be knowledgeable about such conditions, a urogyn provides more expertise. See your doctor and ask for a urogyn referral if you have prolapse issues or are dealing with urinary or fecal incontinence. In addition, if you find it hard to empty your bladder or bowel, or if you’re experiencing any kind of pain around the pelvic or bladder area, a urogyn can certainly 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 extensive training and experience in assessing and treating conditions involving the female pelvic organs, including the muscles and connective tissue within and around them. Urogynecologists usually complete formal fellowships (training that comes after residency) that dealing with the treatment of non-cancerous gynecologic issues surgically or non-surgically. Urinary incontinence, prolapse of a pelvic organ (for example, vagina or uterus), and bladder overactivity are typical problems a urogynecologist treats.

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 one of the requirements of keeping their status as certified urogyns, these physicians engage in continuing education to keep their knowledge up to date.

Board Certified Urogynecologist or Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeon

If a physician claims he is board-certified in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, that means he has passed exams conducted by the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ABOG) and the American Board of Urology (ABU). Alternatively, the doctor may have passed exams conducted by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) and the American Osteopathic Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AOBOG). In any case, board certification is your only assurance that the doctor is a tested expert in urogynecology.

It was in 2013 when the first ABOG/ABU board certification exams were administered. Doctors who finished their training after 2012 usually participated in an accredited fellowship as a requirement board exam eligibility. As mentioned, the first urogynecology board exams were conducted by the AOA/AOBOG in 2012.

As always, feel free to inquire about the training and expertise of a urogynecologist before committing to them. 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.

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