Saturday, January 17, 2015

Urologist or Gynecologist for Incontinence?

     Do I go to a urologist or to a gynecologist? Bladder control issues and gynecological issues can, and usually do, overlap. That’s why Dr. Melvin Ashford, OB/GYN sought out certification in both areas. He is now one of the few, board certified, urogynecologists in the state of Minnesota.

Dr. Ashford has been a practicing OB/GYN physician for 12 years. In 2012 he launched his private practice and opened Minnesota Women’s Care in Maplewood, Minnesota to offer his patients a more welcoming environment for their visits. Incontinence and uterine prolapse are two interconnected issues that Dr. Ashford regularly treats with exceptional success.

“One of the saddest things is to have a grandmother who comes and says, ‘I don’t play with my grandkids anymore because I smell like urine,’” says Dr. Ashford. Frequently Dr. Ashford will see patients with serious pelvic floor issues that could have been averted had they seen him sooner. Generally, they’ve delayed the visit because they thought there was nothing that could be done or they thought what they were experiencing was normal.

There are much better solutions than wearing adult diapers according to Dr. Ashford. There are treatments that stimulate the pelvic muscles and strengthen them. Implants can be inserted to control the bladder and get the leakage stopped. Sometimes Botox can be injected in the bladder to stop bladder spasms stop the leakage. There are also surgical procedures that can be done and medications available.

When a situation does require surgery, in the past, you would have two or three doctors operating in the same place where the organs are connected to each other.

“The problem is, when you have issues of uterine prolapse, the bladder and uterus falling down, then you have incontinence,” explains Dr. Ashford. “They are all connected to each other with connective tissue. So what you do to the top of the bladder impacts the vagina, and what you do to the vagina impacts the rectum.”

One doctor would be handling the bladder falling down and another doctor would deal with the uterus. You had two or three doctors doing one surgery. When you combine urology with gynecology, the procedure is more fluid and outcomes are better, according to Dr. Ashford. You have the same person correcting all the defects in the bladder, vagina and uterus at once.

Of course, Dr. Ashford deals with many other issues related to the pelvic area in his practice. He utilizes the most current technology and treatments available. He was one of the first physicians in Minnesota to begin using the da Vinci® surgical robot to perform minimally invasive hysterectomies and treat endometriosis and uterine fibroids. The da Vinci system provides a much faster recovery because it requires much smaller incisions.

Part of what Dr. Ashford does is simply educate his patients on the increasing range of treatments available. Vaginal rejuvenation gynecology is a treatment for those whose vagina has loosened over time. This vaginal tightening procedure helps improve the sensation of intercourse. Recently, they began offering SottoPelle®, a revolutionary form of bio-identical hormone therapy. SottoPelle uses a unique form of low-dose pellet therapy that lasts for 3 months or longer. It is the only hormone therapy that responds when the body needs more, keeping hormone levels more balanced than applications that rely on pills, patches or creams.

When Dr. Ashford launched Minnesota Women’s Care, he had specific vision in mind for his patients; that’s why it is called a “care center” and not a clinic. Appointments are not hurried or rushed. Every patient is warmly welcomed, the same as you would welcome a friend to your home, with the offer of a beverage and comfortable seating and surroundings. Through the Uniquely Catered Pregnancy Program, expectant moms are really pampered - including a mini-massage at each appointment.

When asked what it is about Minnesota Women’s Care that truly sets them apart, Dr. Ashford doesn’t hesitate: “It’s the people that we have working here.”

Dr. Ashford says that nurses, assistants and secretaries frequently stay late or come in early. They go out of their way to do things for each patient and give patients individualized attention. It creates a culture of care that patients recognize as genuine and heartfelt.

Whether your visit to Minnesota Women’s Care is for a routine pelvic exam or to address concerns related to incontinence, menopause or intercourse, Dr. Ashford and his staff will provide you with the most up-to-date treatment available and in a personalized manner that is rare to find in many other clinic settings.

Minnesota Women’s Care is located at 2603 White Bear Avenue North, Maplewood, MN. You can call them at 651-600-3035 for an appointment or visit them online at for more information.