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. As of 2013, the specialty of urogynecology has a new level of board certification called Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS) that certifies an urogynecologist has the highest level of expertise and credentials for treating women with pelvic floor disorders.
If you have problems with holding or emptying your bladder or bowels, pelvic or sexual pain, urinary or stool leakage, or 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.
FPMRS specialists are surgeons who dedicate themselves to the study and treatment of PFDs in women. They are the experts in all the various ways that PFDs can present and they offer special expertise in vaginal reconstructive surgery. FPMRS specialists complete medical school and a residency in either Obstetrics and Gynecology or Urology. These doctors 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.
The field of urogynecology has evolved to be a unique FPMRS specialty focusing exclusively on women's PFDs. The American Board of Medical Specialties approved Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS), also known as urogynecology, as a certified medical subspecialty in 2011, and the first doctors were board-certified in FPMRS in 2013. A board-certified FPMRS 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. The first board certification exam was in 2013. Physicians who have completed training after 2012 must participate in an accredited 2-3 year fellowship in order to be eligible for FPMRS board certification. In all, FPMRS specialists have completed 7-8 years of additional training after medical school in women's PFDs.
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.