Medically Reviewed by Eric C. Coughlin, MD
Troublesome symptoms of Pelvic Floor Disorders (also called Pelvic Floor Dysfunction), such as Incontinence and Pelvic Organ Prolapse prevent many women from enjoying life to the fullest. Painful or unexpected urination. Bowel problems. Lower back and pelvic pain. Discomfort during life’s most intimate moments.
“Although these problems are most common in women who’ve given birth, it can also occur to women because of age, obesity, injury or even running,” says McLeod OB/GYN Eric Coughlin, MD. “Several techniques can work to treat, if not prevent, these pelvic floor disorders, ranging from exercise and diet to medications and surgery.”
To prevent Pelvic Floor Disorder, simply follow the path to a generally healthy life overall.
Regular exercise is always good. Specific pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, can help strengthen muscles that control your pelvic functions.
Drink enough fluids, preferably water, so that you have to go to the bathroom every few hours. This will help avoid constipation, which often leads to strain on the pelvic muscles. When you feel the need to urinate, try not to hold off. Not listening to your body can hurt your bladder muscles.
Including fiber in your diet can also help avoid constipation. Potential foods include beans, fruit, vegetables and whole-grain products.
When it comes to smoking – quit. Not simple, of course. Yet, smoking causes coughing and raises the chance of developing stress incontinence. Some women complain that smoking increases their bladder irritation.
TREATING WITHOUT SURGERY
For many women, physical therapy represents the first step in treating stress incontinence. A professional therapist can work with you on pelvic strengthening exercises and biofeedback.
For incontinence from an overactive bladder, some OB/GYNs prescribe medications, such as a tolterodine, which can be taken as a tablet or liquid, and oxybutynin.
Nonsurgical treatment for pelvic organ prolapse includes use of a pessary to hold the organs in place.
Several procedures can repair incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Ask your Gynecologist about these possibilities.
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE
You need not live with a pelvic floor disorder. Your OB/GYN can help find the cause of your dysfunction and determine the best approach to eliminate the symptoms. You can start by keeping a diary of the times when you have bladder leakage and the activities you are doing when you have leakage or are feeling distress from possible prolapse.
Find an OB/GYN near you.
Sources include: McLeod Health, National Institutes of Health, American Urogynecologic Society, ABC News, Obstetrics & Gynecology, Journal of the American Medical Association