Pelvic floor disorders typically result from weakened pelvic muscles or tears in the connective tissue caused by childbirth injuries, aging and physical stress. These disorders include bladder and/or bowel control problems and pelvic organ prolapse. Symptoms often begin gradually and progress over time. They may vary for each woman, but common symptoms include:
- Bladder control problems – urine leakage, frequent urination and urinary urgency
- Bowel control problems – bowel leakage and urgency
- Pelvic organ prolapse – protrusion of the vaginal walls outside the vaginal opening, pelvic pressure or heaviness that often worsen by the end of the day.
Urinary incontinence and prolapse are not normal parts of aging. However, more than 50 percent of women 55 and older suffer from them. Pelvic disorders affect the quality of your life. Don’t suffer in silence. Talk with your doctor. Reluctance to talk about them can be a barrier to treatment.
There are exciting new treatments, including minimally invasive, surgical and non-surgical procedures that may relieve the discomfort and problems. Common therapies span a broad range from medications and physical therapy to sacral nerve modulation and robotic surgery.
One new and very effective treatment for overactive bladder and urinary incontinence with urgency uses BOTOX®. This treatment is simple, safe, with few side effects. It is performed on an outpatient basis. Another new therapy involves implanting a device that delivers electrical pulses to a nerve to help with bowel control.
I encourage women to take the first step and be evaluated by a urogynecologist—a doctor who has completed a fellowship focusing on gynecology, urology, and colorectal surgery, and specializes in treating these disorders. This training enables them to carefully consider all functions of the pelvic floor, not just one organ system.
Don’t suffer in silence.
Dr. Matthew Aungst is a board-certified, fellowship-trained urogynecologist who practices at Holy Spirit OB/GYN – A Geisinger Affiliate. He manages and treats the full range of pelvic floor disorders, including complications or vaginal mesh surgery. He sees patients in both offices of Holy Spirit OB/GYN. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Matthew Aungst in Camp Hill, call (717) 763-9880, for Harrisburg, call (717) 901-9898. For more information, visit: www.hsh.org/service/urogynecology.