Women’s Health

Women’s Health: Urinary Incontinence

Unlike most urological issues, urinary incontinence is a symptom instead of a disease or medical condition. Women make up more than half of the 13 million people who suffer from urinary incontinence in the United States. The main factors that contribute to the large discrepancy between sexes are childbirth, menopause and the anatomical structure of the female urinary tract.

Signs and Contributing Factors

Urinary incontinence is the accidental or uncontrolled release of urine.

Women suffer from two kinds of urinary incontinence:

  • Stress Incontinence: Women will encounter urinary incontinence heavy laughter, a cough or sneeze, exercise, or other sharp and sudden movements. It can also be caused when pressure is placed on the bladder. This is the most common bladder problem faced by women.
  • Urge Incontinence: Women suffering from urge incontinence will experience a sudden urge to urinate and be unable to get to a bathroom in time. Urge incontinence can even happen when very little water is in the bladder, and some women will sense no warning before experiencing urine loss.

Next Steps and Diagnosis

Since urinary incontinence is a symptom of other urological problems, the best way to treat incontinence is to treat the main problem. Women suffering from incontinence are urged to contact their gynecologist or urologist in order to set up an appointment. From there, the provider will attempt to diagnose and determine what is causing the incontinence and then be able to provide treatment.

Common causes for incontinence are urinary tract infections and constipation – if patients have recently experienced either of these issues, they should notify their provider as soon as possible.

If you are suffering from urinary incontinence to a point where it limits your lifestyle, or you are worried about larger urological health issues due to incontinence, Associated Urologists of North Carolina offers personalized care to each and every one of our patients. You will meet and form a relationship with one of our board certified specialists who will then map out the best treatment plan for you. Our main branch and administrative office is located at 3821 Ed Drive, Raleigh, NC 27612 and can be reached at 919-758-8677. All eight of our clinics, conveniently located throughout the region to serve our patients, can be found on our contact page.

Women’s Health: Pelvic Organ Prolapse

One of the most common women’s health issues, pelvic organ prolapse (POP) has been medically documented for more than 4,000 years. Since some women don’t show symptoms of POP, and those who do show it are often too embarrassed or confused to ask for help, it’s important to be aware of how POP affects the female body and just how common it is.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of POP is the uterus, or other organs, pressing against the vaginal wall. This pressure can cause vaginal discomfort and cause pelvic organs to function abnormally.

Symptoms other than the telltale pelvic pressure include:

  • The sensation that something is falling out of the vagina
  • Vaginal spotting and/or bleeding
  • Experiencing pain during intercourse
  • Issues with urination, including incontinence (involuntary release of urine), frequent sensations of needing to urinate, most often at night
  • Bowel related problems, such as constipation

Women experiencing any of these symptoms should immediately contact their family doctor, urologist or gynecologist in order to be tested and diagnosed with POP.

Next Steps

Women most likely to suffer from POP will have experienced at least one of the following: vaginal childbirth, menopause, constipation/IBS, chronic coughing, rigorous exercise or heavy lifting, other family members diagnosed with POP and neuromuscular diseases. Women seeking medical attention for symptoms should notify their providers if any of these causes are part of their medical history.

Some providers and their patients will enter a stage known as “watchful waiting,” when symptoms and conditions are monitored in order to decide, going forward, if and how to provide treatment.

Tests for POP will begin with a pelvic examination. From there, the provider will determine the best course of action for additional tests.

If you feel you may be suffering symptoms of POP, or your medical history includes many of the known causes of POP, contact Associated Urologists of North Carolina in order to set up an appointment with one of our certified urological specialists. Our main office and administrative phone number is 919-758-8677, and the contact information and driving directions for all eight of our regional offices can be found on our website.

Kidney Stone Treatment in NC Women

Women tend to have more problems with their urinary tracts than men do, whether it’s incontinence or bladder infections. Thankfully, in one particularly painful area, women are not more susceptible. When it comes to kidney stones, men do have a higher likelihood of suffering from them, but women should still be aware of this excruciating condition.

The symptoms of kidney stones do not differ between the genders to any great degree, though. A kidney stone develops when mineral deposits build in the kidneys and are not flushed out quickly enough.The most common kind is calcium oxalate stones which are due to an abundance of calcium in the kidneys. A disorder called hypercalciuria is suspected to account for many of the calcium-based stones. If the body does not absorb calcium properly and it is left behind in the kidneys, this will cause deposits to grow.

Other minerals, such as magnesium, ammonia and uric acid can also lead to stones forming, but these stones are not quite as common. Regardless of the mineral, a main cause of them forming into stones is dehydration. Small stones form in much of the population but are simply carried out with urine and are not detected. In people who do not drink enough water however, they cannot be flushed quickly enough and they grow.

A woman with a kidney stone will likely not notice any symptoms while the stone is stable inside the kidney, but once the stone moves or begins descending down the ureter, she will begin to feel intense pain. Along with pain in the lower abdomen, groin, back or side, she will also have urine that smells foul and is red or brown. There will also be an intense and frequent urge to urinate. If the ureter or urethra become blocked and it is hard to urinate, she should seek immediate medical help.

Kidney stones are treated in a number of ways, depending on the cause, stage and severity. Many, while painful, will naturally pass – which is the best course. Pain management is important but it is otherwise safe. Other times, they must be broken up with sonar and then passed in smaller stones. In very severe cases, surgery may be necessary to remove a stone that has become lodged.

To avoid this painful ordeal, women need to make sure to stay hydrated and to be aware of any troubling urinary symptoms. If there is anything concerning, talk to a urologist immediately. Associated Urologists of North Carolina are experts in all women’s urological issues, and can help if you think you’re suffering from kidney stones. We have offices in Raleigh, Brier Creek, Apex, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Wake Forest, Clayton, Dunn, Clinton and can be reached at 919-758-8677.

Women’s Bladder Problems

It’s just a fact of life that men’s and women’s bodies operate differently and are susceptible to different problems. Due to anatomical realities, women tend to have much more likelihood of encountering medical issues regarding their bladders and urinary tract than are men. The causes are many and so are the potential issues.

One broad area of concern for women is around urinary incontinence or an overactive bladder. This occurs when a woman has urine leakage, a strong urge to suddenly release urine and/or an increase in frequency around urination. To understand the possible causes of this condition, a little anatomical knowledge is necessary.

The bladder operates like a bag that is filled with urine, which flows in from the kidney. When it is not yet full, the muscles in the bladder are relaxed to allow it to continue expanding and receiving urine. As the bladder reaches a full state, the pelvic nerve sends a signal to the brain that it is full and to tighten the sphincter of the urethra so no urine will leak out before appropriate. Once a proper place to release the urine is reached, the brain will send a signal back to the pelvic nerve that the urethra can relax and the bladder wall muscles should contract to squeeze out the urine.

If any of the processes described above is interrupted, urinary incontinence may occur. After menopause, the estrogen that had kept these muscles elastic and strong is removed, increasing the chances greatly. During or after a pregnancy it is very common for women to experience leakage and increased frequency as well. The nerve signals being sent may also malfunction due to diseases, like diabetes, that damage nerves.

There are so many causes of urinary incontinence in women that some estimates suggest half of all women have at least occasional leakage and loss of control. For many women, this may simply be a rare occurrence that is nothing to be worried about. Female athletes often report that in very strenuous activities they will leak urine. Other women occasionally release small amounts of urine when they laugh, cough or sneeze. This may be nothing to worry about.

Incontinence is not the only bladder problem women will likely face though. Urinary tract infections are also much more common in women than men. This is due to the greater exposure to bacteria in the opening of the urethra for women. Also, the actual urethra is much shorter in women allowing bacteria to travel to the bladder easier. Urinary tract infections can have some of the same symptoms as incontinence, in that the urge to frequently urinate will be present. However, with a urinary tract infection there will also be pain in the abdomen, as well as burning during urination.

Losing control of one’s bladder can be an embarrassment that may make one not wish to leave the house. Most causes of bladder problems in women can be treated though, so if you are dealing with any symptoms described in this article, you do not have to suffer in silence. Associated Urologists of North Carolina has many board-certified to serve those in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Wake Forest, Clayton, Dunn, Clinton and the surrounding areas. Please contact our office at 919-758-8677.

Kidney Issues and Pain in Women

The kidneys are a vital but vulnerable area of a woman’s body. There are many potential issues that can arise in relation to the kidneys. Most kidney problems are both preventable and treatable but may require lifestyle changes or medical intervention.

The main task of the kidneys is to filter out the toxins in blood and then dilute these with water to form urine. Blood will pass through the kidneys where impurities like urea are removed. Water, urea and other toxins will then be sent through tubes called ureters that connect the kidneys to the bladder. The bladder will gradually fill with urine until it reaches capacity at which time a signal is sent to the brain to look for a restroom. The kidney, ureters, bladder and urethra (which carries urine out of the bladder) together are called the urinary tract.

One of the more serious things that can go awry in the kidneys is chronic kidney disease. This is when the kidneys lose functioning over a period of time. Diabetes and obesity are the main risk factors for this. Due to an increase in obesity among women, those with chronic kidney disease is rising. When a woman has chronic kidney disease, their blood is no longer filtered of waste like it had been. This makes a process called kidney dialysis necessary. Kidney dialysis is when toxins are actively removed from the blood to assist the now weakened kidneys.

Kidney stones are another common kidney ailment. These occur when minerals, generally calcium, begin to form hard deposits in the kidney. This usually will be caused by dehydration because the balance of minerals to water doesn’t allow the minerals to be flushed out in urine. These can be small and unnoticeable, in which case drinking water will evacuate them painlessly. If they are larger though, it can be very painful and it’s possible for them to block the flow of urine. Kidney stones are either passed out naturally, which can be painful, or broken up with shock waves first so it can be passed in smaller pieces. Occasionally, surgery may even be necessary to remove especially problematic ones.

Kidney infections are also much more common in women than men. Due to the shorter urethra in women and its more exposed anatomy, urinary tract infections are a common occurrence. More than half of women report having had a urinary tract infection at some point. While most urinary tract infections affect the lower urinary tract (the bladder and urethra), some also travel up into the kidneys. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection will often get much worse once it reaches the kidneys. Antibiotics are very effective at eliminating urinary tract infections though, so, as long as the infection is caught, treatment should be effective.

Women have a lot more kidney complication than men, but it doesn’t have to be a curse. Simple lifestyle changes like drinking more water, eating healthier and losing weight can keep the kidneys fully functioning. If, however, your kidneys are in pain, not producing urine properly, are infected or you have any other concerns about them, Associated Urologists of North Carolina is ready to step-in with expert care. With 15 board certified urologists, we serve those in and around Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Cary, Wake Forest, Clayton, Dunn, Clinton. Our office can be reached at 919-758-8677.

Kidney Stones: Symptoms and Treatment

Kidney stones are often considered the most uncomfortable and common urological issues in men, and they can also be found in women. Here, you’ll find what the common signs and symptoms of kidney stones are and how our 15 board-certified specialists can help patients throughout the Piedmont region who are suffering from kidney stones.

Symptoms

It’s possible you already have a kidney stone and just don’t yet know that you do – a kidney stone may not cause symptoms until it begins moving around within your kidney or when it passes into your ureter (the tube connecting your kidney and your bladder). Once this happens, you are likely to experience some or all of these symptoms:

  •      Sharp and severe pain in your side and back, below your ribs
  •      A radiating or “spreading” pain that moves into your lower abdomen and groin
  •      Pain that comes in waves and fluctuates in intensity
  •      Sharp pain during urination
  •      Pink, red or brown urine
  •      Cloudy or foul-smelling urine
  •      Nausea and vomiting
  •      Consistently needing to urinate
  •      Urinating more often than usual
  •      Infection leading to fever
  •      Urinating small amounts of urine even though high levels of urgency are experienced

When Is It Time To See A Urologist?

If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, go ahead and contact your urologist. Certainly contact your doctor immediately if you cannot sit still or find a comfortable position to sit, feel pain that is accompanied by vomiting or fever, have blood in your urine, or difficulty passing urine.

AUNC’s FASTrack Kidney Stone Care

AUNC would like to save our patients a trip to the emergency room by offering FASTrack. FASTrack is a program for that offers fast relief and care of kidney stones problems, pain and complications. We have a full services diagnostic and treatment center on the premises ready to help.. Patients can find clinics with FASTrack in two locations: Raleigh, at 3821 Ed Drive,Raleigh, NC 27612, and in Cary, at 105 SW Cary Pkwy, Cary, NC 27511

A Urologist for Men, Women and Children

Associated Urologists of North Carolina is one of the largest practices in the state. We have offices in Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Clayton, Dunn, and Clinton and more than a dozen board-certified urologists on staff. Whether you are seeking urology care for a man, woman, or child, our practice has the expertise to diagnose and treat you.

There are many areas that urologists cover. Generally, if it is a medical issue relating to the bladder, kidney, prostate, or male sexual functioning, it will likely fall under the urology practice. For men, the most common problems for which they may see a urologist would be bladder infections, kidney stones, incontinence, infertility, erectile dysfunction, prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and vasectomies. We understand that these are all very sensitive issues to men and we treat them with nothing but the discretion and professionalism they deserve.

We also cover women’s urology concerns at Associated Urologists of North Carolina. Women tend to see obstetricians and gynecologists for their reproductive health, so unlike male patients, we do not deal as much with fertility and sexual functioning with women. However, women’s issues relating to the bladder, kidneys, and the pelvis are covered by urologists just like with men. Women’s most common concerns that may lead to them seeing a urologist include bladder infections, kidney infections, and pelvic organ prolapse. Women are more likely than men to experience infections in their bladder and kidney because their urethras are shorter, creating a shorter path for bacteria to travel.  For this reason urinary tract health is an important issue for our female patients.

Children often have a need to see a urologist as well. Obviously, male children will have similar potential issues to what was described above for males, and female children for what was described for females. However, age does play a role in many medical issues, so for an obvious example, prostate exams and fertility screenings are not pursued at this age. Children usually instead are given care for issues like undescended testicles, hernias, or urinary tract infections. Even though the health concerns are different for children, these are still important reasons to see a urologist.

So, as you can see, urologists can perform important care for every person here in North Carolina. Men, women, and children all have potential medical issues that need to be treated by a urologist. Associated Urologists of North Carolina can treat concerns of this kind for anyone, including low testosterone in older men, undescended testicles in young boys, pelvic organ prolapse in older women, and urinary tract infections in girls. If you suspect you have symptoms relating to anything discussed above, like urinary tract health or men’s sexual health, and live near Raleigh, Cary, Wake Forest, Clayton, Dunn, or Clinton, North Carolina, please give our office a call to schedule an appointment.