A visiting urogynecologist is in town this week to help women who are dealing with pelvic floor disorders. Dr. Michael Carley is based out of Dallas, Texas, but spends a week at Central Peninsula Hospital every three months to see patients for a variety of related conditions.
“I’m a urogynecologist, so the main conditions I treat are conditions in women that include what we call ‘pelvic floor disorders,’ or pelvic floor defects,” Carley said. “So the main problems I treat are urinary incontinence, where women lose urine. I also treat problems with pelvic organ prolapse. I also do treat fecal incontinence.”
Urogynecology is a subspecialty of gynecology that isn’t all that common locally. Alaska has two board-certified urogynecologists, both based at Providence Medical Center in Anchorage.
But the problems urogynecologists treat are not uncommon. Carley, who started coming to Soldotna two years ago, said 10 percent of women have surgery for urinary incontinence or prolapse at some point. And the prevalence of these issues is even higher, especially among older women.
“The majority of people that I see don’t require surgery. Most women with urinary incontinence, in particular, can be treated with nonsurgical therapies,” Carley said. “And part of starting up here at the hospital, I actually work with the physical therapy department and the head of the physical therapy department, Stacy Brantley, does pelvic floor physical therapy to help women, predominantly with urinary incontinence.”
Carley will refer patients to Brantley, who is a general physical therapist but has always been interested in helping women with pelvic floor physical therapy.
“Usually what will happen is I’ll get a referral for a physician, in this case sometimes Dr. Carley, and when they come into therapy, we work on behavioral management techniques, we work on strengthening exercises, relaxation exercises,” Brantley said. Sometimes we utilize equipment for biofeedback or electrical stimulation.”
Carley sees about 40 patients a day at his home practice in Dallas, where he has ancillary staff who help him out. Here, he sees about half that, though he has room in his schedule for more.
“I’ll see as many patients as need to be seen in a day,” he said. “To some degree, I can accommodate more patients as the demand increases.”
When he’s not physically in Soldotna, he’ll work with them remotely, he said.
Brantley is based locally year-round.
“There’s lots of women in the community that have this problem, and for most people it’s very hard to talk about,” she said. “And it’s nice when they’re able to find some help that will hopefully help them for the rest of their lives. It’s a common thing, unfortunately.”
Carley will be taking appointments at Central Peninsula Hospital from Oct. 14 to 21.