Female pelvic health involves the pelvic floor–the group of muscles and connective tissue that supports your pelvic organs such as your bladder, bowel and uterus. According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 25% of U.S. women are affected by pelvic floor disorders which occur when the muscles and connective tissue weaken or are injured.
Pelvic floor disorders increase with age, affecting more than 40% of women from 60 to 79 years of age and about 50% of women 80 and older.
Types of Pelvic Health Conditions
For women, pelvic health conditions are classified into several categories:
- Cystocele: prolapse of the vaginal wall under the bladder
- Pelvic organ prolapse: prolapse of the uterus and vaginal walls
- Rectocele: prolapse of the vaginal wall between the rectum and vagina
- Uterine and vaginal prolapse
- Vaginal prolapse after hysterectomy
- Overactive bladder (OAB)
- Stress urinary incontinence
- Urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence: problems with bowel control
Additional Pelvic Floor Disorders
- Interstitial cystitis: painful bladder syndrome
- Vaginal fistulas: abnormal openings between the vagina and nearby organs, including the rectum or the bladder
Symptoms of Pelvic Health Conditions
Pelvic floor disorder symptoms may vary depending on the specific condition, but the common symptoms include:
- Urinary issues such as painful urination or frequent urge to urinate
- Constipation or bowel strains
- Lower back pain
- Pain in the pelvic region, genitals and/or rectum
- Pain or discomfort during intercourse
- Feeling of pressure in the pelvic region or rectum
- Muscle spasms in the pelvis
How Are Pelvic Floor Disorders Diagnosed?
For accurate diagnosis and treatment, it’s best to consult with a urologist that specializes in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.
Your provider will perform a comprehensive evaluation to diagnose the specific pelvic issue that is causing your symptoms. This assessment will include a physical exam, medical history and, if necessary, advanced testing procedures. Diagnostic testing may include:
- Urinalysis to test for abnormalities or infections
- Computerized uroflowmetry to calculate the speed of urine flow over time.
- Post-void residual urine determination to measure the amount of urine left in the bladder after urinating
- Ultrasound of the kidneys, bladder and/or urethra
- Cystoscopy to look inside your bladder or urethra
- Video urodynamic to detect and diagnose lower urinary tract issues
- Percutaneous nerve evaluation to determine whether sacral nerve stimulation will be an effective treatment for urinary incontinence.
Treatment for Pelvic Health Conditions
Because there are so many different types of pelvic floor disorders, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment option. Your urologist will work with you to determine the best and most effective treatment option for your specific condition. Your customized treatment plan may include one or more of the following:
- Pelvic floor physiotherapy
- Sacral nerve stimulation
- Laser therapy
If the minimally invasive treatment options above are ineffective, surgery may be recommended. Surgical options include:
- Re-operative surgery to correct a previously failed pelvic floor surgery
- Urinary diversion
- Prolapse repair
- Bladder enlargement
- Mesh sling surgery
- Other sling surgery
- Fistula repair
- Urethral diverticula surgery
Schedule an Appointment
At Alliance Urology Specialists, our goal is to provide the highest level of specialized urology care. Our board-certified urologists with advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of female pelvic health conditions. To schedule an appointment, call Alliance Urology Specialists in Greensboro at (336) 274-1114.