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August 2023

Pelvic Floor Disorders: Common in Women of All Ages

They’re not the kind of moments you discuss at the dinner table. But they happen every day to millions of women nationwide.

  • Urine leaks when you cough, laugh, or exercise

  • Trouble having regular bowel movements

  • Feelings of fullness, discomfort, or pain in your vagina

These can be the signs of a pelvic floor disorder.

Time takes toll on important muscles

Your pelvic muscles form a sling that holds up your bladder, uterus, and other pelvic organs. Childbirth, pregnancy, obesity, or simply the passage of time can weaken these muscles.

The result often is incontinence, or being unable to control when you go to the bathroom. Also, one or more of your pelvic organs may drop into or out of the vagina. This is called pelvic organ prolapse.

It’s estimated that 20% of U.S. women have a pelvic floor disorder. The condition is more common with age.

Check your pelvic health

Other signs of a pelvic floor disorder include:

  • A feeling of heaviness, fullness, or pulling in the pelvis

  • A sensation that something is falling out of your vagina

  • Urgent or frequent need to urinate

  • Difficulty having a bowel movement or emptying your bladder

Talking with your healthcare provider about these problems can help you get treatment. Lifestyle changes, such as avoiding caffeine or losing weight, may help improve symptoms. Medicine may also help.

Other therapies include pelvic strengthening exercises known as Kegels. For women with more severe symptoms, a device called a pessary can be placed into the vagina to help support the pelvic organs. If these treatments don’t help, surgery is an option.

Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley BSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 7/1/2023
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