Did you know that women are just as likely to get kidney stones as men??? I don’t know why, but there is a perception that women don’t get stones as often as men. But we all have two kidneys, which is where stones originate.
Stones are literally just that: rocks. If you have never actually seen a kidney stone, they look exactly like rocks. They are made of minerals that crystallize in the kidneys and then conglomerate together to form a stone. As long as the stones are sitting up in your kidney, they usually don’t cause any pain. But if they decide to pass and start heading down the urinary tract, look out. It is the worst pain that humans endure. Women who have had natural childbirth and have a passed a kidney stone will tell you that they would much rather have a baby any day!
You do not want a kidney stone! As much as a I love stone surgery (laser surgery is like playing a video game, all that time playing Ms. Pac-man is paying off now, Mom), I know you don’t want to have to go through that. Here’s how to prevent them:
If you have a family history of stones, you are more prone to get one yourself, so get on this! If you have ever had a stone, you have a 10% chance each year thereafter that you will get another one.
Be healthy and hydrated!!
When I first signed up for a urology rotation in medical school, I thought I was going to spending the next 6 weeks seeing old men with prostate cancer. I really was not interested in urology at that time, but I needed something to fill my fourth year schedule. What I really wanted to do was anesthesiology: putting in IVs and breathing tubes, lots of fun procedures.
But, the anesthesia rotation was already spoken for. So, now what? Well, I was planning to be a gynecologist, so I thought, well, at least if I do urology, then I’ll get more exposure to the pelvic anatomy. Get a refresher course on all the blood vessels and structures. That will be helpful, right? Even if it is just old men and their prostates.
Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Even then I didn’t realize just how wrong I was. Now as I sit here practicing not just urology, but 100% female urology, it is ironic that I thought that it was only prostates!
Of course, urology does encompass prostates in men. It includes everything in the urinary tract from the kidneys through the bladder and out the urethra. Urologists have medical treatments and all kinds of surgeries to treat patients. We treat patients from birth through death, men and women, boys and girls for everything from bedwetting to terrible cancers. It is a great variety surrounding that one part of the body. That’s the reason I fell in love with urology and switched from my pursuit of gynecology.
Female Urology, of course, focuses on the female urological tract. We don’t have prostates, so we don’t need to worry about that (thank God!), but we do have other issues. The most common issue that we have is overactive bladder and incontinence. God made us with short urethras (the pipe that the urine comes through) and a big opening in our pelvis muscles to allow us to have babies. If that opening gets stretched out, such as after having babies, then we start to have problems with organs dropping and having a difficult time controlling our urine. Sometimes it happens even if one has had only C-sections, or has no children.
Female urology is here to help with that! We have everything from physical therapy to medications to surgery to pacemakers, Botox and more. It is a very exciting time because we have some very effective treatments for this now, whereas ten years ago, the options were very limited. You don’t have to live with those pads your whole life!
That is not all that Female Urology entails. It also includes urinary tract infections, painful bladder conditions, kidney stones, evaluation of blood in the urine, slow urinary stream, bladder and kidney tumors, and more.
There is even now a subspecialty, in which I am certified, called Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, which focuses on certain conditions of the pelvic floor, especially prolapse (dropped organs) and incontinence. There are even more advanced surgeries that can be used to treat these conditions, including robotic surgery, which I have been doing for several years with beautiful results (beautiful from a pelvic surgeon’s perspective!).
Over the last twelve years, I have narrowed my urology practice down to females only. I couldn’t be more pleased with my choice. I get to treat some lovely women and see them get their life back: from a life of pads and worrying about where every bathroom is to urine control. And for others, it is helping them with infections, pain, stones, or reassuring them that the blood found in the urine isn’t serious for them. Female Urology is my complete career focus and my mission.