WHAT IS A FEMALE BLADDER SPECIALIST?
In the modern age, doctors and patients have come to recognize the importance of specialization in specific parts or systems of the human body. Cardiologists specialize in the heart, orthopedists specialize in bones, dermatologists specialize in skin. But who specializes in the care of bladders?
The Bladder Wellness Center was founded by Drs. Michael Hyman and Philip Weintraub, both highly respected urologists in the field of bladder control. They received their medical school education and residency training at the most highly respected institutions in the world. And, with well over 35 years of experience between them, they have successfully helped thousands of women with bladder problems. Although many consider the “urologist” as a male version of gynecology, the reality is that urologists are specialists in the urinary tract regardless of gender. The Bladder Wellness Center was developed specifically to address problems that women experience in bladder control.
Women of all ages can experience a wide range of problems when it comes to bladder function, from childhood to the latest stages of life. The most common conditions they can experience are 1) loss of control, a condition we call incontinence and 2) frequent and urgent urination, a condition we call overactive bladder. Incontinence can be mild, requiring a thin panty-liner for an occasional few drops with laughing, sneezing or coughing. On the other hand, incontinence can be severe, requiring many thick pads each day, or even pull-up diapers. Similarly, there is a wide spectrum of severity when it comes to overactive bladder. Some women think they have developed a small bladder that forces them to make increasingly frequent trips to the bathroom. More likely, however, they are suffering from overactive bladder, which can progress to the point where they urinate every hour or more. The condition can be particularly disruptive at night, when she is awakened every hour or more to make trips to the bathroom. Again, while this is a problem that can affect women of all ages, it can be particularly concerning for those over the age of 60, when bones become thinner and falls during those night-time runs to the bathroom could lead to devastating consequences, such as a broken hip. The spectrum of severity with overactive bladder can lead to intense urge to get to the bathroom quickly and in some cases, this can be one of the many causes of having accidents.
WHY DON’T WOMEN GET TREATED?
Because bladder conditions tend to develop gradually, women tend to tolerate their symptoms for longer periods of time than if, for example, they developed a severe loss of bladder control virtually overnight. More than men, women have developed a sense of greater tolerance when it comes to “conditions of daily life”. They have been through menstrual cycles with a tolerance for cramps and bleeding; pregnancies, giving birth, and for many, breast feeding; and menopause with all its associated symptoms. A man never has to experience such life conditions, so he is less likely to put up with them. But women start leaking when they laugh or cough and they think, “looks like I’ll have to pick up some panty-liners”. They’ve been down that aisle at the drug store-it’s not unfamiliar to them. And, they figure, it’s a “normal” part of aging, a factor that couldn’t be further from the truth!
When it comes to women seeing their primary doctors, both doctor and patient are rightfully focusing on the major conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The doctor asks questions like, “do you get short of breath when climbing stairs”, not “how many times do you urinate at night?” or “do you wear pads for bladder control?” It is interesting to note that when a man sees his primary doctor, those questions actually do come up because both have legitimate concerns about the prostate, which can interfere with bladder function and can be a sign of trouble. But for women, bladder conditions are usually swept under the rug. When it comes to a true physiologic understanding of the condition, primary doctors have not always kept up. For example, many erroneously advise their incontinent patients to perform pelvic muscle exercises, known as kegels, which studies have shown have almost no chance of curing the condition.
Probably the most common reason women avoid having their bladder conditions addressed is embarrassment. Even among friends, they are often reluctant to discuss their conditions, particularly when it comes to loss of control. For women, the appearance of youthfulness is obviously very important in our society and few things can make them feel older than the need to wear absorptive pads for loss of urine. Even worse is the reality that one never knows if their pads will fail, either due to movement of the pad in their underwear, or overwhelming the pad with too much urine. Nothing will make her more inclined to stay home than an embarrassing experience like having a wet spot on her clothes in public, whether among friends or in a professional work environment. Even when discussing problems with her personal physician, she may neglect to mention her bladder issues because of embarrassment.
For more information or to book your appointment, you can call Dr. Michael Hyman and Dr. Philip Weintraub at 1-866-977-1999 or visit their website www.bladderwellness.com.