Doctors called urogynecologists diagnose and treat women with pelvic floor disorders which may include bothersome bowel, bladder or sexual symptoms.
Although your primary care physician, gynecologist or urologist may have knowledge about women's pelvic floor disorders (PFDs), an urogynecologist offers expertise in treating women's PFDs.
In 2013, the specialty of urogynecology added a new level of board certification called Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS), which certifies a urogynecologist has the highest level of expertise and credentials for treating women with pelvic floor disorders. FPMRS specialists are also experts in vaginal reconstructive surgery.
FPMRS specialists complete medical school and a residency in either OB/GYN or Urology. They have additional training and experience in the evaluation and treatment of conditions that affect the female pelvic organs, and the muscles and connective tissue that support the organs.
Many, though not all, complete formal fellowships (additional training after residency) that focus on the surgical and non-surgical treatment of PFDs.
To be board-certified FPMRS, a physician has passed an exam from the American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology and American Board of Urology attesting that they possess exceptional expertise in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. Many have also participated in an accredited 2-3 year fellowship. In all, FPMRS specialists have completed 7-8 years of additional training after medical school in women's pelvic floor disorders.
If you have problems with holding or emptying your bladder or bowels, pelvic or sexual pain, urinary or stool leakage, or a vaginal bulge-like something is coming out of your vagina, then you should talk to your doctor about a referral to a urogynecologist with FPMRS certification.
As is always the case, feel free to ask about the training and expertise of any doctor caring for you so you can be confident your doctor's skills and knowledge are right for your pelvic health issues.