It’s Not Just You: Learn About Pelvic Floor Disorders

By: Courtney Caprara

ThinkstockPhotos-465060027Do frequent trips to the bathroom disrupt your day? Do you fear bladder leaks when you’re laughing? If so, you are not alone: 1 in 3 women experience pelvic floor disorders (PFDs).

November 9 to 13 is Bladder Health Week, a time dedicated to informing women about important pelvic health topics. Many women attribute their changes in pelvic health to normal aging processes, but they may be experiencing abnormal conditions that can be treated or cured by a specialist.

Urogynecologists have an in-depth understanding of the challenges women face with these conditions, and they can offer treatments and advice to make the best possible recovery. Three common issues caused by PFDs are:

  • Pelvic organ prolapse. Due to weakness or damage of the pelvic floor, the pelvic organs it supports fall lower than usual, resulting in vaginal bulge, which can cause further health problems.
  • Loss of bladder control. As women age, bladder control issues becomes more likely, but they are never normal. Urine leakage, frequent urination, difficulty emptying the bladder and inability to hold urine long enough to make it to a restroom are common difficulties.
  • Loss of bowel control. One in 12 women experiences bowel control issues, particularly if her pelvic floor is damaged during childbirth. While many women are embarrassed to talk about this issue with their physicians, urogynecologists can provide treatment, eliminating stress and embarrassment.

“Women need to realize that there are treatments available for PFDs,” said Jonathan Shepherd, M.D., a physician with the Division of Urogynecology & Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. “Encouraging women to speak to each other, and more importantly, to their physicians, is an important starting point for combating these conditions that have such a strong impact on daily living.”

Dr. Shepherd will host “Break Free from Pelvic Floor Disorders” on Nov. 12 to start the conversation between women and their physicians. The American Urogynecologic Society will host more than 75 of these events around the country to further educate women on their pelvic health.

Registration is available online for the Pittsburgh discussion, being held at Magee at Mt. Oliver. For more information, visit the UPMC Women’s Center for Bladder and Pelvic Health website.