UC Health has opened the region’s only pelvic floor and incontinence center staffed by fellowship-trained urogynecologists from both gynecologic and urologic areas of medicine.
Equipped to deliver the highest level of care, the center’s subspecialists have completed additional training to diagnose and treat women with pelvic floor disorders.
“In the past, urology and gynecology had overlap, but did not necessarily work together under one roof — our combined skill set is what makes our center unique in Cincinnati,” stated James Whiteside, MD, UC Health urogynecologist, director of the Division of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, and professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
By combining into one center, gynecologists and urologists with this specialized training can address a broader range of conditions.
A nurse for 38 years, Judy Wilkins experienced minor urinary incontinence on and off for years when she coughed or laughed. Because so many women experience the condition, she didn’t think anything of it until prolapse happened. Her primary care physician referred her to Whiteside.
“Judy had an anterior wall prolapse. Her uterus had fallen and was pushing the anterior vaginal wall beyond the vaginal hymen,” said Whiteside. “As you grow older, the pelvic muscles become weaker. If those muscles are not able to support the bladder when you cough, urinary incontinence occurs. Judy was also experiencing urge incontinence where the bladder contracts when you don’t want it to. This can happen because the bladder is not in a normal anatomic position.”
Whiteside performed a hysterectomy and laparoscopically inserted a synthetic mesh suspending the vagina and the bladder to the sacrum — all in a same-day, minimally invasive procedure.
“My recovery was quick, and the difference is unbelievable — it’s like night and day. It has changed my quality of life in an immense way. A huge weight has been lifted from my everyday life,” Wilkins said. “Dr. Whiteside was very caring and took time to explain every part of the process. Knowledge is power, and I’m so glad I went with his suggestions.”
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), nearly 24% of U.S. women are affected with one or more pelvic floor disorders.
“Pelvic floor disorders, including incontinence, deserve awareness and attention along with other diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer,” said Ayman Mahdy, MD, UC Health chief of urology, medical director of urology at West Chester Hospital, professor of urology and director of voiding dysfunction and female urology in the Department of Surgery at the UC College of Medicine. “If you are having urological issues, seek medical advice. Your symptoms are valid; these common issues can be treated with minimally invasive treatment.”
The UC Health Pelvic Health Center also welcomes a new physician, Hayley Barnes, MD, a female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgeon. Barnes is the only female urogynecologist at UC Health and serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the UC College of Medicine.
“Something I hear from patients time and time again is, ‘I wish I got help sooner,’” Barnes said. “Our goal in forming the Pelvic Health Center is simple — to partner with our patients to provide advanced, evidence-based care that allows them to regain control and quality of their lives.”
As the region’s only adult academic health system, UC Health allows for collaboration across multidisciplinary specialties to design effective treatment plans for even the most persistent and hard-to-treat cases. Urogynecology specialists at the Pelvic Health Center work with a team of experts from other medical specialties, including colorectal surgery or gastroenterology, to provide quality, comprehensive treatment that allows patients to resume their normal lifestyle and enjoy all that life has to offer.
The Pelvic Health Center is located at UC Health Physicians Office-West Chester (South), 7675 Wellness Way, West Chester, OH 45069. For more information or to make an appointment, call 513-475-UC4U (8248).