I recently had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Samuels, a Urogynecologist, wife, and soon to be mother of three children. During our conversation she spoke passionately about her work and desire to bring awareness to women regarding Pelvic Floor Symptoms. A treatable diagnosis, but unfortunately so many women suffer daily because they are not aware there is treatment. We discussed how we could inform women not only in Houston, but all that read our blog that it’s ok to talk about what happens “down there” when things are not working the way they should. To me, information is power and action is empowerment. So let’s just do it. Let’s start the conversation in an effort to bring awareness, and by chance if someone is suffering she will know that there is treatment, and she can begin her journey to eliminate her discomfort.
Dr. Samuels is our Guest Q&A Expert to share her knowledge on Urogynecology and Pelvic Floor Symptoms.
What is Urogynecology?
Urogynecology is a surgical sub-specialty combining urology, gynecology and colorectal surgery. It has been renamed as FPMRS (Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery). Physicians that practice this sub-specialty are Urogynecologists. To practice the physician must complete medical school, continue by completing a four-year residency in OB/GYN followed by an additional three-year fellowship in urogynecology, and receive a board certification in urogynecology. The sub-specialty was created due to a demand for a holistic approach and therefore services just to help women repair and improve pelvic floor disorders.
What is a Pelvic Floor?
A Pelvic Floor is a woman’s front (urethra), middle (vagina), and back (anus/rectum). From a medical perspective Urogynecology has enhanced how a physician provides treatment to the patient. For the first time we are able manage the patient’s treatment by considering all the factors that impact the pelvic floor. I am able to make recommendations either for medical treatment or surgical repair that bring back not only the functionality, but the confidence that has been diminished due to pelvic floor disorders. To me, this is the most important aspect. It pains me to see how many women live with pelvic floor disorders for years. They suffer through unnecessary discomfort and shame because they were not aware that their symptoms can be treated.
What causes Pelvic Floor Symptoms?
First let me say that this is not a post pregnancy issue. Many women may think that having a baby causes pelvic floor problems. This is not always true. This is a woman issue. Pelvic floor symptoms affect any age from teenagers to elderly. Life factors such as age, genetics, gravity, and childbirth have an influence. For example, pregnancy puts many strains on the vaginal area that causes swelling, pressure and stretching to the skin which weakens the elasticity. Whether you deliver vaginally or via c-section, the skin has stretched which may cause complications in the future. What is important is that women realize many factors play a part in organ displacement, and living in pain or discomfort is not required. Treatment is available.
What are the common Pelvic Floor Symptoms?
- Incontinence. This is very common in women that are unable to maintain a regular bathroom schedule. In fact, she may be afraid to leave the house because of the consistent urge to urinate. Any movement will make her go. She could be laughing, walking, jumping around and playing with her kids. Therefore, she may begin to lose confidence and joy of everyday living. Incontinence also includes many women that suffer with frequent UTIs (urinary tract infections) that cause unbearable urge and pain. The loss of spontaneity and lack of control greatly impacts a woman’s ability to enjoy daily life events.
- Prolapse. When the vagina, uterus, bladder or rectum begin to come down. This causes great discomfort and shame. Typically it is found in women closer to 50 or in menopause. Birth trauma does have an impact as well, but this is typically a result of laxity in the tissue over time.
- Constipation. Some women go days unable to make a bowel movement. Some women feel that going every 4 days is normal and begin to just accept that is how it will be. Let me say, this is not normal, painful and generally unhealthy. Any woman that is suffering from constipation should speak with a physician as treatment is available.
- Sexual Dysfunction. Yes, this happens to women too. Getting older does not mean that women are not allowed to feel confident and sexy. Remember, the vagina is skin, and when we get older our skin begins to sag everywhere! Our sexual organs at times need a lift to enhance our sexual experience. This is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, enhancing the labia and vagina surgically can help both the urological and sexual function. When we get older we have increased dryness and skin laxity that plays a huge part in female confidence in the bedroom. Again, treatment is available. One should not live with discomfort or shame. I recently read this article and I am so happy that the conversation is getting started.
When should I speak with a specialist?
If you are experiencing any pelvic floor symptoms contact a Urogynecologist. A Urogynecologist does not replace your OB/GYN. In fact, we are partners in your medical well being. Again, we are sub-specialists that focus on the front, middle and back, and we are trained in the pelvic floor that pertain to urology, gynecology and colorectal surgery. I recommend that if you have questions, simply set up an appointment for a consultation to get the conversation started. Most of my clients get a sense of relief that help is available to them. Once they realize there is nothing to be ashamed of and our conversation leads toward a path of treatment I can see their confidence and empowerment return. To me, that is a wonderful feeling as a physician and what I live to accomplish: when a patient is feeling empowered and back control of her life.
About Dr. Samuels
Terri-Ann Samuels, MD is a board certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist with a speciality in Urogynaecology (FPMRS). The particular focus of this being aesthetic gynecology, urinary and fecal incontinence. Dr. Samuels earned her medical degree at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom followed by a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY. Dr. Samuels’ advanced training also includes a fellowship in FPMRS/ Urogynaecology ecology from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. With this, a further emphasis in robotic, laparoscopic and vaginal procedures to reduce recovery time for patients.
To contact Dr. Samuels:
Center for Urogynecology, Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery & Aesthetic Gynecology
4126 Southwest Freeway, Suite 1210
Houston, TX 77027
T: (832) 356-3033