Female Pelvic Medicine - Turnersville, New Jersey

WHAT IS FEMALE PELVIC MEDICINE?

FEMALE PELVIC MEDICINE is a specialized field of women’s health that deals with weakeded pelvic muscles and connective tissue in the lower pelvis that have been stretched or torn through excessive strain such childbirth, menopause, prior pelvic surgery, chronic disease or repeated strenuous activity.  The physician that specializes in this field is now called a Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeon.  This specialty started up in the 1970’s andfor more than 3 decades was referred to as Urogynecology.  Specialists in this field have completed medical school, a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology or Urology, and additional fellowship training. The training consists of providing expertise in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of conditions that affect the muscles and connective tissue of the female pelvic organs. These physicians are also knowledgeable on the latest research in the field pertaining to these conditions.

The female pelvic floor consists of the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that support the pelvic organs, including the bowel, bladder, uterus, and vagina. The pelvic floor plays an important role in making sure that these organs function properly maintain continence (or storage) of urine and feces, as well as facilitating elimination. Additionally, the pelvic floor plays a vital role in vaginal and uterine support throughout a woman’s life including pregnancy and delivery.

Pelvic floor disorders can occur in women of all ages, but appear most commonly following pregnancy and delivery, and again, following menopause. Women may develop weakness in the pelvic floor muscles and their associated nerves as a result of pregnancy, regardless of method of delivery. Other medical conditions including diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and stroke can also result in weakness.

Often times, the first sign of a problem isfeeling a protrusion of tissue coming out of the opening to the vagina. This is known as pelvic organ prolapse, and may involve the walls of the vagina, cervix and uterus.Problems with bowel or bladder control are also common signs of pelvic floor weakness.

Advancements in the diagnosis and management of female pelvic floor disorders in the last decade stimulated the development of this new specialty, and training in this area is typically beyond what is normally covered during residency training. Recently, the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) voted and approved Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery as an official sub specialty of both Obstetrics and Gynecology and Urology. The new subspecialty will be jointly boarded through the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the American Board of Urology, beginning in the second half of 2013.

WHAT TREATMENTS ARE AVAILABLE IN FEMALE PELVIC MEDICINE?

There are a variety of therapies to cure or relieve symptoms of pelvic floor disorders. You should choose the one that works best for your lifestyle and meets your goals.

Sometimes simple changes and interventions can have a significant impact on daily quality of life. He or she may advise conservative (non-surgical) or surgical therapy depending on your wishes, the severity of your condition and your general health. Conservative options include medications, pelvic exercises, behavioral and/or dietary modifications and vaginal devices (also called pessaries). Pelvic Floor Therapy with Biofeedback and Electric Stimulation are also treatments that your doctor may recommend. Safe and effective surgical procedures are also utilized by Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeons to treat incontinence and prolapse.

When Should you See a Female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgeon?

Although your primary care physician, OB/GYN, or urologist may have knowledge about these problems, aurogynecologist can offer additional expertise. You should see (or be referred to) aurogynecologist when you have problems of prolapse, and/or troublesome urinary or fecal incontinence or when your primary doctor recommends consultation. Other problems for which you or your doctor might think about consulting aurogynecologist include: problems with emptying the bladder or rectum, pelvic pain or bladder pain, fistulas, and the need for special expertise in vaginal surgery.

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Additional information regarding the new subspecialty can be found through the following websites:

American Urogynecologic Society
www.augs.org

The American Urogynecologic Society is the leading professional society in the United States for the advancement of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. AUGS promotes the highest quality of patient care through excellence in education, research and advocacy. Founded 1979

Society of Gynecology Surgeons
www.sgsonline.org

The Society of Gynecologic Surgeons is recognized as a select member group of over 250 physicians nationally recognized for their expertise and dedication to the practice of advanced gynecologic surgery.

International Continence Society
www.icsoffice.org

The International Continence Society (ICS) Web Site offers you the latest research about incontinence.

National Association for Continence
www.nafc.org

The NAFC Web site is a central meeting place for those suffering from incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders. Here, you can find a specialist in your area dedicated to bladder health. The NAFC is the world’s largest consumer advocacy organization for consumers, health care professionals, and industry and is dedicated to public education and awareness of incontinence.