Urinary incontinence and pelvic discomfort can be an embarrassing and difficult
health problem for women. At least
25% of American women report urinary leakage or pelvic discomfort, according to the National
Association for Continence. These issues have a negative impact on quality
of life, especially if you’re constantly searching for a bathroom
or worrying about leaking. Unfortunately, half of women with pelvic floor
disorders don’t discuss these issues with their doctors.
These disorders tend to become more common as women age. While “leaking”
or discomfort is experienced in one-fourth of U.S. women, it’s not
normal. If you experience those symptoms or any of the others listed,
you shouldn’t hesitate to see your doctor.
Incontinence is caused by a variety of factors, including childbirth, loss
of muscle tone, nerve damage, or other medical conditions. There are four main
types of incontinence:
urge to use the bathroom immediately.
Leakage caused by
stress during laughing, coughing, sneezing, or rising from sitting to standing.
Overflow or being unable to empty your bladder.
Functional when you cannot get to the bathroom in time due to immobility.
Frederick Regional Health System (FRHS) has a
multidisciplinary pelvic health program designed to put an end to surprise leaks and discomfort. This collaborative
team of specialists provides you a diagnosis and develops a treatment
plan based on your specific condition. Your team may include, but is not
- Primary care physicians
- Colon-rectal surgeons
- Pain management specialists
- Physical therapists
This list may sound intimidating, but there’s no need to worry about
managing all of those appointments on your own. Our
women's health navigator works closely with patients to determine the best treatment for their
conditions. The navigator also assists in coordinating care and guiding
you through evaluation, treatment, and resolution. Best of all, the navigator
is free of charge to all patients.
Our pelvic health program evaluates and treats many conditions, including:
- Urinary frequency
- Painful intercourse
- Heavy or frequent bleeding
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Leakage of stool or urine
- Relaxation of the uterus, bladder, vagina, or rectum
- Interstitial cystitis
Using the most up-to-date and minimally invasive therapies, treatments
for these conditions may include medication, physical therapy, and/or surgery.
To improve pelvic health, FMH Rehabilitation physical therapist Lynne Schill,
MPT, teaches patients pelvic floor kegel exercises that strengthen the
muscles that become thinner as you age. Schill also suggests:
Avoid certain foods. Caffeine, citrus, and alcohol can irritate the bladder. Her list of “safe
foods” includes pears, watermelon, apricots, papayas, non-citrus
herbal teas, and acid-free coffee.
Don’t drink less. Avoiding liquids for fear of having an accident can cause urine to become
more concentrated, which also irritates the bladder.
Don’t rush to the bathroom. When you feel the urge to go, Schill recommends that you stand still or
sit down, then take deep breaths, contract your pelvic muscles, and slowly
walk to the bathroom to keep your bladder calm.
If you experience these symptoms, or have concerns about your pelvic health,
speak to your healthcare provider or call our
women’s health navigator at 240-215-1447 to discuss your options for taking control over
your bladder today.