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How Do I Decide Between a Urologist or Gynecologist?

For women experiencing health issues in the pelvic region, it may seem natural to seek help from an OB-GYN. But sometimes, a urologist is the better option for “down there” care. 

Obviously, a woman’s urologic and reproductive systems are close together in the body. And it’s not uncommon for people to see them as one network, needing the care of one doctor. But the reality is that these systems are quite different, regardless of their proximity. Indeed, problems in these regions often require different expertise to find the right diagnosis and treatment.

Different Specialties for Different Ailments 

A urologist specializes in the urinary system — the bladder, kidneys, ureter and urethra. It’s a common misconception that urologists only treat healthcare issues in men. They treat women, too. They provide care for anything related to the urinary tract, such as incontinence, overactive bladder and hematuria (blood in the urine). 

A gynecologist specializes in the female reproductive system. They provide care for issues related to the reproductive organs, including menstrual cycle problems, fertility and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). 

Because the urinary tract and female sex organs have a lot of overlap in the body, gynecologists and urologists often work collaboratively to address a patient’s needs. For example, if you’re experiencing pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence, these doctors may work together to treat both conditions.

15 Reasons to See a Gynecologist

Common symptoms that indicate you should see a gynecologist include: 

  • Breakthrough bleeding (bleeding between menstrual cycles)

  • Increased vaginal discharge and/or color changes in discharge

  • Itching, swelling, or soreness in the vaginal area

  • Low libido

  • Lumps or sores in the vaginal area

  • Painful periods

  • Pain or discomfort during sex

  • Unusual vaginal odor 

Common conditions gynecologists treat include: 

  • Endometriosis

  • Menopause

  • Sexually transmitted infections

  • Uterine fibroids

  • Vaginal infections

  • Yeast infections 

While your gynecologist can treat certain conditions related to the urinary system, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI), they may refer you to a urologist if you experience recurrent UTIs or have other symptoms that indicate something is affecting your urinary tract.

13 Reasons to See a Urologist 

Common symptoms that indicate you should see a urologist include: 

  • Blood in urine

  • Burning or discomfort while urinating

  • Difficulty urinating

  • Frequent urination

  • Incontinence (accidental leakage of urine)

  • Pelvic pain 

Common conditions urologists treat include: 

  • Kidney stones

  • Hematuria

  • Incontinence

  • Overactive bladder

  • Neurological diseases of the bladder (e.g., stroke, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury)

  • Recurrent urinary tract infections 

Talking about issues related to the reproductive and urinary systems can be uncomfortable for women, but it’s the first step toward getting the right treatment. Stress urinary incontinence, UTIs, pelvic pain, and prolapse are common conditions many women experience, and doctors who specialize in these issues are here to help.

If you’re not sure if you should see a urologist or gynecologist, talk to your primary-care doctor. They can refer you to the right specialist to ensure you get an accurate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment.

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