Posts Tagged ‘urinary bladder’

Uterine Fibroids And The Bladder

January 9, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD   1/9/16

shutterstock_femalebluepelvic

 

Fibroids are muscular growths that develop within the womb that can put direct pressure on the next door neighbor of the uterus–the urinary bladder.  This compression can give rise to a host of annoying urinary symptoms including urinary urgency, frequency, urinary leakage and difficulty urinating.  

Although fibroids usually grow within the uterine wall, at times they do so internally into the uterine cavity or, alternatively, externally on the outside of the uterus. They are virtually always benign and much of the time they do not cause symptoms. When symptomatic they may cause the following: heavy uterine bleeding; pelvic pressure; a swollen and distended lower abdomen; urinary and bowel issues; pelvic and lower back pain; pain with sexual intercourse; as well as fertility problems, reproductive issues and complications of pregnancy (breech births, failure of labor to progress, the need for C-section, preterm delivery, and bleeding following delivery).

The most common presenting symptom of uterine fibroids is uterine bleeding, which often begins as prolonged menstruation and can be severe enough to cause a low blood count.  Fibroids are problems of the reproductive years, prevalent in women in their 30s, 40s and 50s. They can be solitary or multiple, range in size from tiny to huge and vary in location within the uterus. The largest fibroids can outgrow their blood supply and undergo degenerative changes. When extremely large, they can distort the lower abdomen, simulating pregnancy. Fibroids are “tumors”–-although benign–- that microscopically consist of interlacing bundles of smooth muscle surrounded by condensed uterine tissue. There is a genetic basis for fibroids with an increased prevalence in women with a family history. Obesity increases one’s risk for fibroids.

The growth of uterine fibroids is largely controlled by estrogen, the key female sex hormone. Fibroids tend to grow rapidly during pregnancy and regress after menopause when estrogen production ceases.

The presence of fibroids may significantly impair one’s quality of life. Because of the pressure they apply against the typically balloon-thin female urinary bladder, they often cause urinary symptoms, much as in pregnancy when an enlarged uterus compresses the bladder. Urinary symptoms most often occur when the fibroids are located closest to the bladder and/or urethra. Typical symptoms include urinary urgency, frequency and stress urinary incontinence (leakage of urine with sneezing, coughing, and exertion). Symptoms are proportionate to the size of the fibroid, with larger fibroids causing more significant symptoms. On occasion, a fibroid can cause an obstruction of the urinary tract, impairing one’s ability to empty their bladder, sometimes requiring the placement of a urinary catheter to alleviate the obstruction.

On pelvic examination, fibroids can often be recognized as pelvic masses. Thye can be further evaluated with imaging studies, including ultrasound, computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging. They characteristically cause a “popcorn” appearing calcification on abdominal radiographs.

Those fibroids that do not cause symptoms or bleeding do not require treatment. There are numerous pharmacological options for symptomatic fibroids including medications that lower estrogen levels that cause suppression and shrinkage of the fibroids. Surgery may be required when there is an inadequate response to conservative measures. Surgical options include removing or destroying the uterine lining to control heavy bleeding, deliberately blocking the blood supply to the fibroid, surgical removal of one or more of the fibroids and, at times, removing the entire uterus (hysterectomy).

Bottom Line: As a urologist, I not uncommonly see women with urinary urgency, frequency, incontinence or urinary obstruction caused by one or more uterine fibroids pushing and compressing the bladder or urethra. It is usually very obvious on pelvic ultrasound or cystoscopy (visual inspection of the bladder), where the fibroid can be seen to cause extrinsic compression. The good news is that such fibroids are eminently manageable, which most often resolves the urinary issues.    

Wishing you the best of health and a very happy New Year,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”: www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health: available in e-book (Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo) and paperback: www.MalePelvicFitness.com. In the works is The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health.

Co-creator of Private Gym, a comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training program. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Arnold Kegel, Private Gym empowers men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.

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What The Heck is Urology?

August 24, 2013

Andrew Siegel, MD  Blog #116

“Urology” (uro—urinary tract and logos—study of) is a medical specialty concerned with the study, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the urinary tract in females and of the genitourinary tract in males. The organs under the “domain” of urology include the adrenal glands, kidneys, the ureters (tubes connecting the kidneys to the urinary bladder), the urinary bladder and the urethra (the channel that conducts urine from the bladder to the outside).  The male reproductive organs include the testes (i.e., testicles), epididymis (structures above and behind the testicle where sperm mature and are stored), vas deferens (sperm duct), seminal vesicles (the structure that produces the bulk of semen), prostate gland and, of course, the scrotum and penis.  The reproductive and urinary tracts are closely connected, and disorders of one oftentimes affect the other…thus urologists are referred to as  “genitourinary” specialists. Urology involves both medical and surgical strategies to approach a variety of conditions.

Urology has always been on the cutting edge of surgical advancements (no pun intended) and urologists employ minimally invasive technologies including fiber-optic scopes to be able to view the entire inside aspect of the urinary tract, as well as ultrasound, lasers, laparoscopy and robotics.  There is a great deal of overlap in what urologists do with other medical and surgical disciplines, including nephrology (doctors who specialize in medical diseases of the kidney); oncology (cancer specialists); radiation oncologists (radiation cancer specialists); radiology (imaging); gynecology (female specialists); and endocrinology (hormone specialists).

Urologists are the male counterparts to gynecologists and the go-to physicians when it comes to expertise in male pelvic health.  Urologists, in addition to being physicians, are also surgeons who care for serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses, particularly cancers of the genital and urinary tracts.  In terms of new cancer cases per year in American men, prostate cancer is number one accounting for almost 30% of cases; bladder cancer is number four accounting for 6% of cases; and cancer of the kidney and renal pelvis (the inner part of the kidney that collects the urine) are number six accounting for 5% of cases.  Urologists are also the specialists who treat testicular cancer.  Urologists also treat women with kidney and bladder cancer, although the prevalence of these cancers is much less so than in males. 

Very common reasons for a referral to a urologist are the following: blood in the urine, whether it is visible or picked up on a urinalysis done as part of an annual physical; an elevated PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) or an accelerated increase of PSA over time; prostate enlargement; irregularities of the prostate on examination; urinary difficulties ranging the gamut from urinary incontinence to the inability to urinate (urinary retention).

Urologists manage a variety of non-cancer issues. Kidney stones, which can be extraordinarily painful, keep us very busy, especially in the hot summer months when dehydration (a major risk factor) is more prevalent. Infections are a large part of our practice and can involve the bladder, kidneys, prostate, or the testicles and epididymis.  Urinary infections is one problem that is much more prevalent in women than in men.  Sexual dysfunction is a very prevalent condition that occupies much of the time of the urologist—under this category are problems of erectile dysfunction, problems of ejaculation, and testosterone issues. Urologists treat not only male infertility, but create male infertility when it is desired by performing voluntary male sterilization (vasectomy).   Urologists are responsible for caring for scrotal issues including testicular pain and swelling.   Many referrals are made to urologists for blood in the semen.

Training to become a urologist involves attending 4 years of medical school after college and 1–2 years of general surgery training followed by 4 years of urology residency. Thereafter, many urologists like myself pursue additional sub-specialty training in the form of a fellowship that can last anywhere from 1–3 years.  Urology board certification can be achieved if one graduates from an accredited residency and passes a written exam and an oral exam and has an appropriate log of cases that are reviewed by the board committee.  One must thereafter maintain board certification by participating in continuing medical education and passing a recertification exam every ten years.  Becoming board certified is the equivalent of a lawyer passing the bar exam.

In addition to obtaining board certification in general urology, there are 2 sub-specialties within the scope of urology in which sub-specialty board certification can be obtained—pediatric urology, which is the practice of urology limited to children and female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (FPMRS), which involves female urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and other female uro-gynecological issues.  The FPMRS boards were offered for the very first time in June 2013, and I am pleased to announce that I am now board certified in both general urology and FPMRS.  There are approximately 100 or so urologists in the entire country who are board certified in the urology subspecialty of FPMRS.

In terms of the demographics of urology, although urology is largely a male specialty, women have been entering the urological workforce with increasing frequency.  This is because female students now comprise approximately 50% of United States medical school population. There are 10,000 practicing urologists in the USA, of which about 500 are women. Urologists have a median age of 53, so we are not a particularly young specialty. The aging population will demand more urological health services and the Affordable Care Act will result in the dramatic expansion of the number of American citizens with health insurance. These factors combined with the aging of the urological workforce and the contraction due to retirement, all in the face of growing demands, does not augur well for a balance of supply and demand in the forthcoming years.  Hopefully there will be enough of us to provide urological care to those in the population that need it.

Andrew Siegel, M.D.

Author of Promiscuous Eating: Understanding and Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship with Food: www.promiscuouseating.com

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Author of: Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health, in press and available in e-book and paperback formats in the Autumn 2013.

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