Many women are often nervous or even embarrassed to ask their doctor about personal health issues they start experiencing as they get older, specifically when it comes to their pelvic health. Pelvic health disorders can be uncomfortable and confusing. As a urogynecologist, I see women who have been dealing with symptoms on their own for far too long. Once we decide on the best treatment for them, they often wish they hadn’t waited to ask for help. Here are three questions you shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask. In fact, asking them is the first step in preventing more severe problems down the road.
1. Is ‘leakage’ normal?
If you’re running to the bathroom multiple times a day or leaking when you exercise, you’re not alone. About 18 million American women suffer from urinary incontinence, which is when urine leaks unintentionally. There are many causes, including some medical conditions, medications, childbirth or age-related changes. Incontinence is common and many women think it’s just something they have to live with. That’s not true. Your doctor can offer a variety of solutions, such as changing certain habits, pelvic floor therapy, medication or minimally-invasive surgery.
2. Why does sex hurt sometimes?
Like incontinence, pain during sex is a common issue. Menopause can cause issues with pain and dryness during sex. Your doctor can help identify or rule out any underlying problem as the cause of your discomfort. You should feel comfortable asking about symptoms related to your intimate health. Your doctor can prescribe or recommend a variety of solutions to help, such a prescription creams or therapy. Sex should never hurt.
3. I’m experiencing pelvic pain/pressure. What can I do about it?
Pelvic pain can vary from woman to woman and range from mild to severe. Some women may even feel it in their abdomen, lower back and hips. The causes of this pain can be due to childbirth, hormonal changes or infection. If you’re feeling pelvic pressure and it’s worse when you’re standing, jumping or lifting but feels better when you’re lying down, you may be dealing with pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse is the dropping of the pelvic organs caused by loss of support in the vagina.
Similar to other pelvic health disorders, there are a variety of treatments for pelvic pain or pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic floor disorders are not a normal part of aging that you have to live with. They are medical conditions and they are treatable. By discussing your symptoms, your doctor will be able to correctly diagnose and treat the problem, helping you regain your confidence and quality of life.