Mercy Health: Pelvic Floor Health

Childbirth, Aging Don't Have to Lead to Prolapse & Pain
Scott Firestein, M.D.
Scott Firestein, M.D.

Have you thought about your pelvic floor lately?

“Commonly, a patient will mention they’re trying to exercise more, and they’re leaking urine or feeling their pelvic organs are falling out,” says Scott Firestein, M.D., a Mercy Health gynecologist who sees patients in Mason and Kenwood. “It’s a common complaint among my patients; however, many don’t bring it up until it has happened for a while.”

The pelvic floor is an essential group of muscles, ligaments and connective tissues supporting such vital organs as the bladder, uterus and rectum. It’s also crucial for maintaining continence, sexual function and core stability. Weakening or damage can lead to pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence, adversely affecting a woman’s quality of life.

According to Dr. Firestein, common causes of pelvic floor dysfunction include pregnancy and childbirth, aging, repetitive heavy lifting, obesity and chronic constipation. All can weaken or damage pelvic floor muscles, leading to pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence.

Prolapse is a condition where the vaginal opening widens, which can lead to the bladder or cervix protruding. This can make women feel like their organs are falling out. Physical activities like laughing, sneezing or exercising can cause stress incontinence. Urge incontinence is characterized by sudden and intense urges to urinate, followed by involuntary leakage. Some patients may experience both types of incontinence, or they may experience overflow incontinence, which is involuntary leakage caused by an overfull bladder.

Regardless of the type of pelvic floor dysfunction patients experience, it adversely affects their quality of life, Dr. Firestein emphasizes. Women might have to limit physical activity, have difficulty urinating, and experience painful bowel movements and other pelvic discomfort.

Preventative measures and lifestyle changes include:

  • Performing pelvic floor exercises like Kegels that strengthen muscle control.

  • Working toward a healthy weight.

  • Employing proper lifting techniques and maintaining adequate fluid intake and regular voiding patterns.

According to Dr. Firestein, pelvic floor physical therapy can effectively strengthen and relax the muscles if a woman requires medical treatment. Medications can also manage symptoms of overactive bladder and incontinence, while devices like pessaries can provide support for pelvic organs. Surgery may be an option if other treatments do not provide relief.

“Women shouldn’t have to suffer through pelvic floor dysfunction or see it as an inevitable part of life,” Dr. Firestein emphasizes.

The emotional and psychological impact of pelvic floor issues include embarrassment, anxiety and reduced quality of life. These issues can be addressed through open conversations with your gynecologist, who can also prescribe treatments to help remedy any dysfunction.

“By empowering women with knowledge, we want to promote proactive care and dialogue about this essential aspect of wellbeing,” Dr. Firestein says.

Are you experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction? A Mercy Health gynecologist can help. Visit mercy.com or call 513-418-5700 to make an appointment with Dr. Firestein.

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