6 Reasons for Women to See a Urologist
Urologists aren’t just for men. Women may need to see this type of doctor, too. Urologists are trained to treat problems that affect the urinary tract. This is a system of muscles, tubes and organs, such as the kidneys. Urologists also treat problems with the reproductive system in both men and women.
Some women may want to see a urogynecologist. This doctor is a gynecologist with special training in treating bladder control problems and other conditions involving the female reproductive system and urinary tract, such as pelvic organ prolapse.
Warnings signs of problems involving the urinary tract include:
- Bloody urine
- Frequent urges to urinate
- Leaking urine
- Pain in the back or sides
- Pain or burning during urination
These symptoms may signal the need to see a urologist or urogynecologist. Common urinary conditions among women include:
Urinary Tract Infections
Most women will develop a urinary tract infection (UTI) at some point in their lives. The infection develops when bacteria enter the urinary tract. Women with a UTI may have pain or burning when they urinate. They may also feel a sudden urge to go to the bathroom, but then have trouble urinating. UTIs can be serious, but they also can be treated with antibiotics.
Bladder Control Problems
Women of all ages can have problems with bladder control. Another name for this is urinary incontinence (UI). It is a very common problem among women. Women are twice as likely as men to have this problem.
Women with UI may have trouble holding in urine, especially when they sneeze, cough or exercise. This is called stress incontinence. Stress UI can develop when the muscles that support the bladder become weak. This may occur after pregnancy and childbirth or simply as women get older.
Other conditions that can cause problems with bladder control include:
- Overactive bladder. Women feel strong and sudden urges to urinate. This happens even when the bladder isn’t full.
- Overflow UI. Urine leaks from the bladder because it doesn’t empty entirely.
Bladder control treatment may include:
- Exercises to strengthen muscles inside the pelvis
- Implanted devices or injections
This condition occurs when the bladder drops down into the vagina. The medical term is cystocele. Bladder prolapse is another name for it. It can happen if the wall between the vagina and bladder becomes weak. Most often this occurs after having a baby. But, it can also occur after lifting heavy objects. Chronic coughing and obesity increase the odds of the bladder sinking into the vagina. The risk also rises with age, because of hormone changes. Surgery can correct fallen bladder.
Painful Bladder Syndrome
The medical name for painful bladder syndrome is interstitial cystitis (IC). It causes discomfort in the bladder or lower belly. Women may feel the need to urinate up to 60 times a day. They may feel as if their bladder is always full. This can be uncomfortable and upsetting. The urge to urinate can also be sudden and severe. It can interfere with everyday activities. Some women avoid social events or travel away from home. Sex can also be uncomfortable or painful.
Doctors are still working to figure out what causes IC. There is no cure. But, treatment can ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Substances in urine can combine to form a urinary stone in the kidneys (kidney stones) or bladder. This hard mass can also form in the ureters. They’re the tubes that carry urine from the kidneys to the bladder. Urinary stones can cause burning during urination. Women may also develop a fever or chills. These stones can make urine look or smell different and the urine might contain blood.
Too much calcium or protein in the diet can lead to kidney stones. Urinary stones may be the result of another health issue. Or, they can even develop from certain cancer treatments. Women with a UTI are also at greater risk for stones. Drinking 2 to 3 quarts of water in 24 hours could help move a urinary stone. A doctor can also break them up with an ultrasound-based treatment or remove them with surgery.
Cancer in women can occur in several parts of the urinary tract including:
- Bladder or its lining
- Urethra, the tube that carries urine out of the body
Cancer in the urinary tract can cause low back pain, pain during urination, and blood in the urine. Women may have to go to the bathroom more often than usual. Treatment options for cancer include biologics, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation.