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Pelvic floor disorders are more common than most people think. Approximately 25% of women in the U.S. report at least one of the symptoms associated with these disorders. Some common pelvic floor disorders include:
- Pelvic organ prolapse (patients report “something is falling out of my vagina”)
- Urinary incontinence (patients are unable to make it to the bathroom without leaking or they leak while coughing, laughing, exercising, etc.)
- Urinary urgency/frequency (patients report “going to the restroom all of the time” or having a “weak bladder”)
- Fecal incontinence (accidental bowel leakage)
There is still some stigma surrounding these conditions, so many women unfortunately do not report symptoms to their medical providers because they believe and/or have been told that their symptoms are normal and that they “just have to live with it.” Pelvic floor disorders are more common with increasing age, but these symptoms are not normal and there are many treatments available to improve quality of life. Women certainly do not have to “just live with it.”
If you’re experiencing symptoms of a pelvic floor disorder, a female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgeon, also known as a urogynecologist, can help. A urogynecologist is a subspecialist that diagnoses and treats pelvic floor disorders such as pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, urinary urgency/frequency, fecal incontinence and more. There are numerous ways to effectively treat these disorders, depending on the patient and the condition severity. These treatments may include pelvic floor physical therapy, medication or surgery (which may include vaginal, laparoscopic or robotic procedures).
It’s important to tell your provider if you have any of the symptoms described in this post so he/she can guide you in the right direction for treatment. Pelvic floor disorders are generally non-life threatening, however, they can affect your social activities, sexual function and overall quality of life. These symptoms, although touted by many as “normal,” are not, and should be addressed.
Certain pelvic floor disorders may be asymptomatic and there is not a reliable way to predict whether symptoms may become more bothersome over time. However, seeking care sooner rather than later will allow you to discuss available therapies which can improve quality of life.
Once you’ve been referred to a specialist, you might be wondering what to expect during your initial visit. At the new patient visit with a female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgeon (urogynecologist), your medical history and history of present symptoms will be reviewed. Then, your provider will conduct a comprehensive physical exam, including a pelvic exam, to evaluate your anatomy in order to provide the most accurate treatment plan. Further evaluation, including in-office procedures, may be necessary at future visits on an as-needed basis.
The Urogynecology team at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women is committed to providing the best possible care while taking precautions to keep patients safe during in-person visits. At this time, all patients and staff at the Pavilion for Women are required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks. Clinic staff are also required to wear face shields and masks while caring for patients, and our team members complete daily screenings to ensure we are healthy and ready to serve patients. We are also offering telemedicine (video) visits, so you can speak with a provider in the comfort of your home. Learn more about our Urogynecology team and services, here.