This is an interview of Dr. Teresa Irwin MD, FACOG, FPMRS. In this interview, she shares how she empowers women to take control of their reproductive health through essential preventative education.
Can you tell us what you do?
I am board certified in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery (FPMRS), previously known as urogynecology. I am one of less than 1,500 board certified FPMRS in the United States and the only one between San Antonio and Austin, TX. I also serve as an expert witness on female pelvic dysfunctions.
I provide women of all ages essential education, female empowerment, advanced female pelvic medicine, reconstructive surgery of the pelvic floor, and gynecologic aesthetic surgery. My philosophy is to present extraordinary healthcare throughout a woman’s life by treating the whole person (body, mind, and spirit). I want to provide the information that will empower women to take an active role in their own reproductive health, during all stages of their lives.
What inspired you to go into this field?
My own personal experiences inspire my passion for helping women reclaim control over their lives. I described my experience in my chapter in the internationally best selling book, Ignite Your Health and Wellness.
I founded “the vaginacologist” because after years of working as both a surgeon and expert witness on female pelvic dysfunctions, I realized many of the issues my patients were experiencing were due to a lack of education. I now have a following of over 130,000 across social media platforms. I provide educational resources to help women understand their anatomy and implement preventative measures to reach their full potential.
As a speaker, I provide education that will drastically reduce a woman’s risk of developing vaginal and bladder dysfunctions. This information will increase the quality of life for women all around the world! In November of 2020, my company received the GOLD winner award for Startup of the Year through Women in Business and the Professions World Awards.
Can you talk more about the procedures you do and why there is a need for these treatments?
First of all I implement conservative treatment measures which include behavioral changes and referral to a pelvic floor therapist. Sometimes I will also use medications and vaginal insertion devices. If those measures fail, then I’ll proceed with surgical management.
One of the most common problems that occurs in women at some point in their lives, is stress urinary incontinence (the uncontrollable leakage of urine during exertion activities), affecting more than 50% of women. Much of what I do is treatments for these conditions, such as surgically placing a midurethral sling, a synthetic material that serves like a hammock under the urethra to prevent leakage during activities that place stress on the pelvic floor, such as coughing, sneezing, jumping, laughing, lifting, exercising, and sex. Other treatments include bulking up the urethra with materials that reduce the diameter of the urethral tube, thereby decreasing stress incontinence.
The second most common type of incontinence is urge incontinence/ overactive bladder, which is the uncontrollable loss of urine upon the urge that the brain signals you to go to the restroom. Some of the surgical treatments that I do include Botox injections into the bladder that will reduce the urgency, frequency, and urge urinary incontinence. One of the best treatments for this problem is implanting a rechargeable device, called sacral neuromodulation, that sends gentle electrical signals to the nerve that controls the bladder. You can think of it as a “pacemaker for the bladder,” so that it corrects the signals from the brain to the bladder.
I also treat pelvic organ prolapse, which is the descent or the dropping of pelvic organs into the vaginal wall and sometimes peering out of the vagina. Those organs could include the bladder, the uterus, the top of the vagina if the uterus was removed, and or/ the rectum. I typically will treat this using robotic technology, that’s allowing these types of procedures to be done in a minimally invasive fashion, contributing to a speedy recovery, less pain, and less bleeding. If a hysterectomy is needed, I can use the robot as well to complete that.
Other conditions that I treat using robotic technology are those of chronic pelvic pain which can be due to several things such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, fibroids, and ovarian cysts, or masses.
I also perform several vaginal procedures that may treat prolapse, incontinence, vaginal/ urethral cysts, and/or masses.
Bladder conditions that I treat can include interstitial cystitis and which may be treated with sacral neuromodulation (mentioned above) and cystoscopy which is the use of a telescope to look inside the bladder and then hydrodistend it so that the patient is better able to have improved bladder capacity.
Can you tell us about a big patient success story you’ve had?
There are so many. Here is a testimonial from a client:
“I am about to have a baby soon and I am an older mom at 35 y/o. By implementing the strategies that Dr. Irwin has taught me, I have not had any leakage of urine during my entire pregnancy. I am also able to delay having to use the restroom every hour. I’ve been doing pelvic floor muscle exercises, I feel stronger and better. I’m not afraid of my body aging. I am now comfortable speaking about my vaginal health. Dr. Irwin has taken away the taboo of this subject, and it has really helped improve my quality of life.” – LaJune
What is your next big goal with your career?
To provide education to ALL women of the world that will drastically reduce a woman’s risk of developing vaginal and bladder dysfunctions. This information will increase the quality of life for women all around the world! I plan to do this through speaking engagements across our planet, along with online master courses that will provide targeted information for each of the specific conditions that women develop so that they can better manage it, or prevent the problem in the first place.