Renewing Function, Restoring Hope
Imagine if you had the frequent urge to go to the bathroom at unexpected times. Or if you couldn’t exercise or participate in other activities due to pelvic discomfort. Or if you weren’t able to play with your children for fear of urinary leakage. Life can be challenging for women who are coping with these issues – all symptoms of pelvic floor disorders. By age 55, nearly half of all women will have some type of pelvic floor condition – and many will suffer in silence with the uncomfortable, embarrassing and sometimes life-altering symptoms.
Knowing the Facts
The “pelvic floor” refers to the muscles that form a sling across the opening of the pelvis. These muscles and the surrounding tissues keep all of the pelvic organs in place and help the organs function correctly. Female pelvic floor disorders affect a woman’s vagina, uterus, bladder and rectum. Urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse are two of the most common conditions.
Urinary incontinence affects one in three women. The two types of the condition include urge incontinence (urinary leakage with the sudden need to void) and stress incontinence (urinary leakage that occurs with physical effort, such as coughing, sneezing or exercising).
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when one or more organs in a woman’s pelvis – the uterus, vagina, urethra, bladder or rectum – shifts downward and bulges into or even out of the vaginal canal, making everyday activities extremely uncomfortable.
Sometimes the onset of symptoms is so gradual that women acclimate to the problem, or don’t really notice it until something major occurs. But one thing is certain – these conditions do not get better over time. Women who have symptoms that interfere with their daily activities should seek help from a physician who specializes in these disorders, so they can receive the most accurate diagnosis and have access to the latest treatment options.
There is no good reason for women to have to deal with the discomfort and inconvenience of these problems when there are so many successful ways to treat them.
Why You Should Seek Treatment
Several myths surround the cause and treatment of urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse – myths that cause some women to delay or avoid seeing a doctor. Here are some facts to encourage you to get the help you need and deserve.
Myth: These conditions are a natural part of aging.
Fact: While these disorders are more common as women age, they are not normal. You should seek medical consultation if you experience: heaviness or pressure in the area of the vagina or pelvis; a bulge of tissue coming through the vaginal opening; accidental loss of urine; frequent or unexpected urges to urinate; or difficulty urinating.
Myth: These problems only happen to older women who are going through menopause.
Fact: The average age of women who seek treatment for urinary incontinence is 50, which means many younger than age 50 have the condition. And although the conditions become more common with age, they are not caused by menopause.
Myth: Treatments are not effective.
Fact: In almost every case of these conditions, a variety of medical, rehabilitative and surgical options exist that can correct the problem or significantly reduce symptoms. Newer therapies also provide long-lasting results.