Is it stress or urge incontinence? What is prolapse? Am I troubled by nocturia?
At some time in their lives, nearly 2 out of 3 women will suffer from some form of incontinence. Nearly half of women who’ve given birth will experience pelvic organ prolapse.
All statistics are good to know. But what do those terms mean to you and your daily health?
“We always try to explain problems and treatments in terms that our patients can understand,” says McLeod OB/GYN David Bersinger, MD. “And many articles on this website help explain them. Yet, it might be good to check this list of terms and explanations to help you better understand the health issues you may be talking about with your physician.”
TERMS a woman should understand about her pelvic health:
Biofeedback: A technique used to help a person control body functions that you normally are not conscious of when they happen. Using visual, auditory or other signals, biofeedback helps an individual gain control over feeling the need to urinate.
Bladder: A muscular organ, where urine is stored. During urination, the bladder contracts and releases urine into the urethra.
Bladder Diary: A journal of your bathroom visits, volume of urination, fluid intake, pad usage and incontinence events (leakage) to help your OB/GYN determine your problem and possible treatments.
Diuretic: A drug or substance that increases the production of urine.
Dysuria: Pain during urination.
Endometriosis: A painful menstrual disease caused when tissue (endometrium) that normally grows inside the uterus develops outside the uterus.
Fibroids: Muscle and tissue growths in the uterus that may cause heavy bleeding and painful periods.They may require surgical treatment.
Frequency: Urinating at short intervals, usually defined as more than every 2 hours or more than 7 times a day.
Incontinence: Inability to control bodily functions, such as urination.
Kegel Exercises: Pelvic muscle exercises that assist in bladder and bowel control, as well as intimacy.
Mid-Urethral Sling: Surgery to repair stress incontinence.
Nocturia: The need to urinate frequently during the night that wakes you up from sleeping.
Pelvic Floor: A muscular area at the base of the abdomen attached to the pelvis.
Pelvic Floor Disorder: Any disorder affecting the muscles and tissues that support the pelvic organs. These disorders may result in loss of control of the bladder or bowels or cause one or more pelvic organs to drop downward (prolapse).
Pelvic Health: Issues surrounding a female’s genital area, including incontinence, prolapse, fibroids and endometriosis.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse: A condition in which pelvic organs — such as the uterus, bladder or rectum — drop downward. It is caused by weakening of the muscles and tissues that support these organs.
Pessary: A device inserted into the vagina to support sagging organs that have dropped down (prolapsed) or to help control urine leakage.
Stress Incontinence: Accidental release of a small amount of urine caused by coughing, laughing, lifting or jumping. The triggering action places pressure on the abdominal muscle, which in turn places pressure on the bladder.
Urethra: A tube-like structure through which urine flows from the bladder to the outside of the body.
Uterus: A muscular organ located in the female pelvis that contains and nourishes the developing fetus during pregnancy.
Urge Incontinence: Urinary leakage with a strong feeling that you need to urinate, often without a triggering event.
Urinary Incontinence: Involuntary leakage of urine due to loss of bladder control.
Urodynamics: In-office testing to determine the type and extent of your incontinence problem.
Vagina: A tube-like structure surrounded by muscles leading from the uterus to the outside of the body.
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
Use these terms and definitions to help you better understand your pelvic health problem. Follow the links for more details. Discuss any questions you have with your Gynecologist.
Sources include: McLeod Health, American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, International Continence Society, National Institutes of Health