Urology Services for Women

Both women and men are affected by urologic conditions; however disorders are experienced differently by females (urinary tract infections (UTIs) and urinary incontinence (UI) occur more often in women.) Compared to a man, a woman’s urinary tract is much closer to the genital area, therefore sexual intercourse, pregnancy, and childbirth and may contribute to female urologic conditions.

Kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra comprise the urinary system (urinary tract). Its main function is to remove urine from the body and to maintain a proper balance of bodily chemicals to water. The urination sequence begins with kidneys filtering of blood, which pass the urine via the ureter to the bladder. Urine is then released through the urethra.

Common urologic conditions in women are listed below.

General Conditions

Incontinence, infections, and fistulas are the most frequent general urinary tract issues.

  • Urinary Incontinence (UI). This is involuntary bladder control loss and seen about twice as often as in men. Childbirth, menopause and the structure of the urinary system in women contribute to this.
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are from infection by bacteria. Symptoms include frequent/painful urination, nausea, cramps, or blood in the urine. The occurrence is ten times as likely for women compared to men. 20% of women will have a UTI in their lifetimes.
  • Urinary Fistula. This refers to abnormal connections between the colon, vagina, kidney, urethra, bladder, and urethra. One symptom may be urine and/or feces leaking from the vagina.
  • Voiding Dysfunction. This refers to an inadequate bladder muscle and urethra coordination, precluding complete bladder emptying. Symptoms include urinating frequently, strong urge to urinate, and trouble emptying the bladder.
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse. Support structures such as skin, ligaments and muscles around the vagina weaken, allowing organs like the bladder to descend below the normal positions. Older women who have had children are more likely to experience this.

Bladder Conditions

The bladder stores urine and can be part of incontinence and other urinary system conditions.

  • Bladder Prolapse. This is a subset of pelvic organ prolapse (see above).
  • Overactive Bladder. A common issue with increased age and childbirth, this is caused by weak pelvic floor muscles. The symptoms are similar to voiding dysfunction.
  • Painful Bladder Syndrome. This can occur at any age but most frequent in women of middle age. It is twice as common in women as in men. It is caused by an inflammation of the bladder walls. Symptoms include bladder pressure, painful or frequent urination and abdominal pain in the area of the bladder.

Urethral Conditions

The urethra provides to urine route from the bladder to elimination, much shorter in women than males, and opens between the vagina and clitoris.

  • Urethral Syndrome. This is similar to a lower UTI, however not bacterial infection. The symptoms are similar to a UTI along with incontinence but with varying degree of each.
  • Urethral Diverticulum (UD). This pertains to the formation of a pocket-like pouch next to the urethra and normally connected directly to it. Due to this direct connection, the pouch will get filled with urine leading to infection. Symptoms – strong urge to urinate, frequent urination, and painful urination. Occurrence is normally seen between the ages of 40 and 70.

Kidney Conditions

The kidneys are the blood filters, removing impurities and creating urine.

  • Kidney Stones. This is the clumping together of salts and minerals in the urine producing “stones”. Sizes range from a grain of sand to golf ball sized. The smaller of these may pass through the urine and be quite painful.
  • Chronic Kidney Disease. Experienced by more than twenty-five million in the USA, the most common causes are hypertension (high blood pressure) and diabetes.
  • Hydronephrosis. This refers to the inability of one or both kidneys to pass urine and the attendant swelling. Causes include a UTI, scarring from injury or surgery, a kidney stone, a blood clot, pregnancy, or a blockage.
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease. This is genetic and is the formation of non-cancerous cysts in either or both kidneys. Damage to the kidneys can occur.

Urologic Cancer

These are fairly common.

  • Urethral cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Kidney cancer