Meet Dr. Birte Wolff
As told by Birte Wolff, M.D.
We sat down with Birte Wolff, M.D., a board-certified urogynecologist with NorthShore Medical Group, to learn more about her practice.
My Patient Philosophy
I really enjoy talking to patients about all of the options, because not everybody gets surgery. It’s more of a partnership, really. It’s really important to listen to the patient and learn where the bother is and where the quality of life issues really are.
So on the first visit I’ll do a discussion at length and get into the things that are bothering her, when it started, how bad the symptoms are and how it’s really affected her quality of life. We’ll do a pelvic exam just like a gynecologist would but with a few more details to it. Once that’s complete we’ll have an open discussion about what I think the options or recommendations could be.
Every patient is different. From the moment I step into the room my goal is to figure out how I can improve that patient’s life, right now.
When to See a Urogynecologist
Patients should come see me or my urogynecology partner if they have urinary leakage—so leaking urine when they don’t want to—if they feel a bulge in the vagina, if they have pelvic pain either with intercourse or even without, if they feel like the urine stream isn’t the same or not emptying as well. Those are kind of the classic issues
A lot of patients wait a long time with these symptoms and they suffer kind of in silence. I think it’s kind of an “old-timey” thing—that you were told by your mom or your great grandma that part of aging. You just leak a little.
Urogynecology has advanced a lot and we have a lot of things to offer. Now we have other very minimally invasive options that people may not know about.
Patients have a lot of courage to come and it’s a very privileged position to then have the opportunity to help them.
Treating Urinary Incontinence
For urinary incontinence, the first line of defense is often pelvic floor physical therapy. Depending on which kind of incontinence they have, they will focus on different things. For example, when patients have a lot of pelvic floor muscle pain—a cramp in the vagina muscles—they get a special therapist for that.
Some women may choose to have a pessary placed, which is like a plastic ring that goes into the vagina. Something really simple like that can help patients a lot. We have them right here at the office and can fit them with them with one. Pessary’s are so minimally invasive, and you can keep them in as long as you want.
But a lot of women then choose potentially to have surgery when the time is right in their life.
Minimally Invasive Surgery
One of the major shifts in our field is that laparoscopic surgery and robotic surgery
—both of which are minimally invasive surgery—have become more accessible.
It used to be that everyone would get a large incision to have their incontinence or prolapse repaired, but most people are now getting laparoscopic procedures, which makes the patient experience much better and the recovery time much shorter.
At Swedish Hospital we offer laparoscopic procedure, so that means just straight stick laparoscopy and the robotic assisted. The robot and the laparoscope are both accessed just through small incisions—their really, really small—on the stomach, and there are four or five of them. The procedures are similar in length. They just need to know that they’re having minimally invasive surgery. Either with the robot or without, the result will be the same.
Birte Wolff, M.D.
, is a board-certified urogynecologist with NorthShore Medical Group. Her clinical interests include fecal incontinence, mesh removal, minimally invasive surgery, overactive bladder, pelvic organ prolapse, stress incontinence, urinary incontinence, urinary retention, vaginal surgery and laparoscopic surgery. She speaks English and German.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Wolff, call 773-907-3038
By David Modica | Published October 8, 2019