Understanding Pelvic Floor Disorders
Are you experiencing:
- Frequent need to go to the bathroom
- Leaking while laughing or sneezing
- An inability to “hold it”
- Pain or pressure in the vagina
- Feeling a “bulge” or like you are sitting on a ball
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you may have a pelvic floor disorder. Often, women may be reluctant to talk about these issues, even with their doctors. Instead of asking for professional help, many women mistakenly assume they are an inevitable part of aging. The good news is with an accurate diagnosis, these issues can be treated, managed and often eliminated.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is name for the muscles, ligaments and tissue that support the organs of the pelvis: your uterus, bladder and rectum. The pelvic floor keeps these organs in place and functioning properly.
What are pelvic floor disorders?
Pelvic floor disorders is a term for pelvic organ prolapse or “dropping down” of the pelvic organs caused by weakened or damaged muscles and nerves in the pelvic floor. As a result, the bladder, uterus or bowels hang low and create an uncomfortable “bulge,” which often feels like pressure. Prolapse also may cause an involuntary loss of urine, gas or stool, called urinary and bowel incontinence.
Pelvic floor disorders may sound scary and embarrassing, but they are common and treatable. At least one-third of all women – and half of all women age 55 and older – are affected by a pelvic floor disorder.
What causes pelvic floor disorders?
Childbirth and surgery are common causes of pelvic floor disorders. Some medical conditions as well as genetics, obesity, menopause and aging also can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and tissues. Younger women also can be affected.
Diagnosing a pelvic floor disorder
A primary care physician or gynecologist may diagnose a pelvic floor disorder by listening to a woman’s symptoms and performing a simple pelvic exam. The physician may send the patient to a urogynecologist, who specializes in treating these conditions.
There are several treatments options for pelvic floor disorders, from lifestyle changes to medication, exercises and advanced minimally invasive surgery. The goal is to improve quality of life using an individualized approach for each woman.
Don’t delay seeking treatment
You don’t have to live with a pelvic floor disorder. Norton Women’s Pavilion offers a variety of treatment options to get you back to enjoying life. Talk with your primary care physician or OB/GYN about your symptoms. If you don’t have a doctor, call Norton Healthcare’s free physician referral service at (502) 629-1234.
This fact sheet has been provided for informational purposes to better understand certain health topics. This information should not be taken as medical advice. Consult your physician for answers to questions about your health.