PELVIC HEALTH MATTERS

Did you know that one in three to four women are affected with one or more pelvic floor problems?

Pelvic floor disorders occur when muscles and connective tissues of the pelvis weaken. These muscles form a sling across the opening of the woman’s pelvis thus holding the bladder, uterus and rectum in place.

The three major pelvic floor disorders are urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. These are problems that cause physical discomfort and limit activity.

Involuntary leakage of urine during activities such as coughing, sneezing, lifting, laughing or exercising is called stress urinary incontinence. This problem affects atleast 10-20% of women.  Overactive bladder is another common bladder problem that can cause you to rush to the toilet many times during the day and night, and can sometimes also cause you to leak some urine before you reach the toilet.

Fecal incontinence is when a person loses the ability to control their bowel movement, resulting in leakage of gas or stool. It can be very distressing and can severely affect everyday life.

Pelvic organ prolapse is the bulging of one or more pelvic organs into or out of the vagina. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles and supportive tissue that hold these organs in their correct position become weakened.

Why are pelvic floor problems so common in this day and age?

One of the reasons could be that life expectancy has increased and women now spend about one third of their lifetime in the menopause. Also, obesity is now on the rise due to changes in our food and lifestyle habits.

The proportion of women with these problems increases with age, number of children the woman has had and with obesity.

Recent advances in the field of medicine have come up with several new treatment modalities for these conditions. Treatment for pelvic floor disorders varies with severity of symptoms. Treatment may involve behavioral therapies, exercises to strengthen muscles, medications or surgery.

It is important to consult a urogynecologist for a full assessment and evaluation of your problem to discuss the best treatment option for you.

Tips for healthy bladder and bowel habits –

  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables and high fibre foods.
  • Drink around 2 – 2.5 litres of water in a day.
  • Cut down on caffeinated and carbonated drinks.
  • Try to gradually increase the time between your visits to the toilet if you are going more frequently than 3 hourly.
  • If you are overweight, losing weight will help you to reduce the strain on your pelvic floor muscles and also reduce episodes of leaking urine on coughing or straining.
  • Practice pelvic floor exercises regularly.

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