Women encouraged to speak up about their pelvic floor problems

Women encouraged to speak up about their pelvic floor problems

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Pelvic floor disorders aren’t enjoyable to talk about, but it’s necessary so treatment can begin to help make life more manageable.

Pelvic floor disorder is the inability to control the muscles of your pelvic floor which supports your bladder, uterus, and rectum. As a result, one may experience difficulty having a bowel movement.

One in five women have pelvic floor problems after their first child and 20% of women, 45 and older, have accidental bowel leakage at least once a year as a result to their pelvic floor disorder.

What a lot of women don’t know is that this condition is common and something they shouldn’t have to be ashamed about. There are also solutions and treatments for issues they may be having. If left untreated, it could lead to long-term colon damage or infection.

“A lot of times they won’t even bring it up because number one they don’t think there’s anything that can be done about it and number two, nobody wants to talk about it," said Dr. Sarah Fox, a colon and rectal surgeon at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Here are some symptoms related to pelvic floor disorders:

  • constipation and bowel strains
  • lower back pain
  • urinary issues
  • pressure in the pelvic region or rectum

Childbirth can cause pelvic floor problems, but a traumatic injury in that area along with obesity and nerve damage can cause.

“Over time, especially in post-menopausal women, when your hormones change the pelvic floor gets weaker," said Dr. Fox "So even if you weren’t having issues when you were younger, you may have them later on.”

Dr. Fox says it’s important to pay attention to your body and fuel with the necessary nutrients.

“I encourage everyone to make sure you’re taking in enough fiber,” said Dr. Fox. “The recommendation is 30 grams a day. Almost no American gets 30 grams a day. Try to pay attention to that; taking a fiber supplement if needed so that your bowel movements stay consistent, easy to pass, you’re not straining, etc.”

There are different paths for the treatment depending on the severity of the pelvic floor disorder, but the first step is reaching out.

“I would encourage any patient who has that issue to find a provider in any of the disciplines that they feel comfortable with," said Dr. Fox. "Whether that’s a urologist, or a gynecologist, or a gastroenterologist, or a colon and rectal surgeon. Even their primary care doctor or internal medicine doctor. Anyone, you feel like you can broach the topic with.”

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