If you’re experiencing pelvic floor pressure, incontinence or several other uncomfortable symptoms, you’re not alone. Nearly a quarter of all women in the U.S. face some form of pelvic floor disorder.
Knowing that some women may feel uncomfortable talking about this topic, one of AdventHealth for Women’s expert urogynecologists, Lindsay Kissane, MD, answers some of the most common pelvic health questions and provides resources to find relief.
1. What is a urogynecologist?
A urogynecologist is an OB/GYN or urologist who has subspecialized in treating women who struggle with pelvic floor disorders, such as urinary and fecal incontinence, overactive bladder and pelvic organ prolapse, as well as fistulas, mesh complications and recurrent UTIs.
2. How common are these disorders?
Up to 50 percent of women are affected by bladder control problems during their lifetime, and about 1 in 12 people struggle with bowel control. The exact prevalence of pelvic organ prolapse is difficult to determine, but approximately 8 percent of women report symptoms of prolapse.
3. When do these disorders typically occur?
The rate of all pelvic floor disorders increases with age, but these conditions can occur at any point in a woman’s lifetime. Aging and menopause can decrease the strength of the pelvic floor muscles. Obesity, chronic straining, pregnancy and childbirth also increase the risk of developing a pelvic floor disorder.
4. What are the major symptoms to look out for?
Experiencing urinary or bowel incontinence frequently, seeing or feeling a vaginal bulge, or feeling extreme with pressure in the vaginal area are signs that you should seek care from an OB/GYN who will likely refer you to a urogynecologist.
5. Are pelvic floor issues common after childbirth?
These issues are increasingly common after childbirth. Pregnancy and delivery put increased stress on the pelvic floor muscles and support system. While vaginal deliveries increase your chances further of developing a pelvic floor disorder, women who have C-section deliveries can also be at an increased risk for these disorders. Pregnancy itself is a risk factor for incontinence or prolapse.
The risk of developing a pelvic floor disorder increases with more pregnancies, but women who only have one child may still develop a pelvic floor disorder. This is because there are a variety of risk factors, including genetics and age.
6. What are the treatment options for pelvic floor disorders?
Treatment options depend on the most bothersome symptom and can range from very conservative (like lifestyle changes, home pelvic floor exercises or physical therapy) to more interventional (like minimally invasive surgery). Medications will often help women with bowel incontinence or overactive bladder.
7. What happens if you delay treatment?
With pelvic floor prolapse, this condition often worsens over time, especially after menopause. They can get better with conservative treatments like Kegels, but over time, most pelvic floor disorders will worsen.
8. Can I do anything to prevent prolapse?
The most important things you can do to prevent prolapse are maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding heavy lifting and avoiding constipation.
Integrated Pelvic Health Program at AdventHealth for Women
The team of nationally recognized pelvic health experts at AdventHealth for Women are available to help women of all ages find relief from pelvic health disorders. The new, integrated Pelvic Health Program provides access to a range of pelvic health specialists including urogynecologists, colorectal surgeons, urologists and physical therapists with locations throughout Central Florida.
It’s easy to find the right care for you with a dedicated Pelvic Health Care Coordinator. Learn more at PelvicHealthExperts.com.