Many women suffering in silence as more female urologists needed in UAE

Women doctors need to break the concept that urology is a specialty restricted to men as their presence is required in the field, said the UAE’s first Emirati female urologist.

Female patients in the country do not want to seek help from male urologists, says Dr Ahlam BuSaber. Antonie Robertson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Dr Ahlam Bu­Saber is a busy woman. As one of the few female urologists in the country, her skills are much in demand.

Serving at the Al Qassimi Hospital in Sharjah, the Emirati sees between 12 and 20 female patients a day from across the UAE.

She has long lists of patients in need of treatment.

Dr BuSaber fears, however, that there may be many more women who are suffering in ­silence, given the lack of female doctors who specialise in urology, which focuses on diseases of the urinary tract.

“To my knowledge I am the only female Emirati urologist in the country. Women do not want to seek help from men,” Dr BuSaber said.

“There are many patients who suffer and are too shy to admit their condition to men. I am getting references from Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain.”

Women are often unaware of urological conditions and consider the symptoms the result of giving birth and ageing.

“Women wait for months and years to realise that they suffer from a condition and are then able to seek diagnosis,” said Dr BuSaber. “This lack of knowledge carries with it a number of urological and psychological issues.”

Urinary incontinence is a common urological condition. It affects about one in five women between 18 and 44 years of age.

Most of them wait six and a half years from their first experience of urinary incontinence until they visit a specialist.

“Some women think this is not a problem because they see other women in their family suffering from it,” said Dr BuSaber.

An Algerian resident in Sharjah suffered from incontinence for three years before seeking help last year.

“I did not want to seek help from a man and finding a female urologist here is very difficult. I used to go to my gynaecologist and ask her for guidance,” said the 42-year-old.

She said her gynaecologist was not of help with her problem, so she asked around for a female urologist and was directed to Dr BuSaber.

“Having more women urologists would help. In the region, we tend to discuss these things only with female doctors,” said the Algerian mother of two.

“Many women are going to a physician or a gynaecologist but they can’t [treat] them the way a urologist would.”

Dr Manaf Al Hashimi, a consultant urologist at Burjeel Hospital, said urologists and gynaecologists at the hospital worked together to help patients with urological conditions.

“Usually the patients present to the gynaecologist. We get clearance from the gynaecologist and then we do the investigation,” he said.

Dr BuSaber said female doctors should realise that they were needed in the field of urology.“Urology is not an easy specialty, especially the surgeries,” she said.

“However, there is a good number of female patients and there is a need for female doctors,” she said, adding that female doctors should be encouraged to do rotations at the urology department.

“This will show female doctors how important their role would be in this specialty.”