Gynecologists or primary care physicians can handle most of women's healthcare issues involving the uterus, ovaries, cervix, and other parts of the pelvis. They can even handle most issues involving the bladder. But sometimes, the right specialist for the job is a urogynecologist.

A urogynecologist is an OB/GYN who specializes in treating pelvic floor dysfunction. Since both men and women can experience pelvic floor problems, a urologist may treat the condition in men.

What Is the Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor is the group of muscles, connective tissues, nerves, and ligaments that create the support system for the pelvic organs, including the uterus, vagina, rectum, and bladder. The pelvic floor keeps all the pelvic organs in their correct locations.

What's Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Any kind of health issue that weakens the pelvic muscles and connective tissue and disrupts normal function of the pelvic organs is considered a pelvic floor dysfunction.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), about one-third of American women will experience a pelvic floor disorder during her lifetime as a result of pregnancy or childbirth, surgery, disease, radiation, or age-related conditions. The most common symptoms include pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, pelvic pain, and sexual dysfunction.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse

  • Uterine prolapse occurs when the pelvic floor fails to support the uterus and it falls into (and sometimes out of) the vagina.
  • Vaginal prolapse occurs when the top of the vagina loses support and drops through the external vaginal opening.
  • Bladder prolapse occurs when the bladder falls into the vagina.


Urinary incontinence means urinary leakage, a loss of bladder control, or an inability to control the flow of urine. This can be caused by an oversensitive bladder, prolapsed organs, a fistula (open passageway between the vagina and urethra), or infection.

Fecal incontinence occurs when there's a loss of bowel control, fecal leakage, or inability to expel feces in a normal manner. This can be the result of chronic constipation, a fistula (open passage between the vagina and rectum), prolapsed organs, or other health problems.

Pelvic Pain and/or Sexual Dysfunction

Unsupported pelvic organs and strained ligaments and muscles can lead to pelvic pain or sexual dysfunction.

Your gynecologist might recommend you see a urogynecologist if initial treatments such as medication, exercises, or surgery aren't successful. A urogynecologist will evaluate your condition and recommend treatments that might include physical therapy, surgery, medications, and lifestyle changes. She may recommend bowel or bladder training, adaptive equipment, or other therapies. Biofeedback and electrical stimulation are newer treatments that are proving to be successful. Most people will require a combination of treatments to treat their condition successfully.

Should You See a Urogynecologist?

If you're struggling with pelvic floor dysfunction, pain, or incontinence, see your regular health care provider immediately. She might be able to treat your conditions quickly or she might prefer you consult with a urogynecologist. Depending on your insurance coverage, you might be able to consult with a urogynecologist first.

Whatever route you take, rest assured that most pelvic floor dysfunctions can be successfully treated. Just be sure to seek help sooner than later because the longer you wait, the greater the risks for physical, emotional, and social complications. The good news is that with the help of a urogynecologist, you don't have to wait until a small problem becomes a big one. 




National Institutes of Health. Pelvic Floor Disorders Overview. Web. 2012.

Pelvic Floor Disorders Network. Web. 2011