By: K. Lauren de Winter, M.D., FACOG, FPMRS, MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center
Health issues related to your pelvic floor are very common, yet many put off talking to a doctor about their symptoms sometimes out of fear, shame, or consider it a normal part of the aging process.
Men and women of all ages can suffer from a variety of common pelvic floor issues including urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and an overactive bladder. However, early intervention using various treatment options can prove to be extremely helpful if you are experiencing any of these conditions.
Anyone challenged with a pelvic floor condition knows that these issues can easily affect quality of life, but what most don’t know is that many of these issues are treatable. Here are a few ways to seek care and strengthen your body if you have a pelvic floor condition and some will surprise you:
Physical therapy One of the best and easiest ways to start treating a pelvic health condition is through pelvic floor therapy with a trained physical therapist which involves specific exercises and breathing techniques for strengthening and/or relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor to help improve core stability and control urination, bowel movements, and sexual function.
Fifty percent of women aren’t using the right muscles when doing pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels, on their own, so it’s important to seek help from a pelvic floor physical therapist who can develop a treatment plan specific to your condition to ensure you are working the right kinds of muscles.
Also, many people don’t realize that pelvic floor physical therapy is covered by health insurance and can be referred by your obstetrician gynecologist (OB-GYN), primary care physician or urologist.
At-home biofeedback devices
Becoming more popular are over the counter “Kegel devices” or “Kegel trainers” that women can use to strengthen their pelvic floor in the comfort of their home. These devices are highly effective for stress incontinence and have shown to produce similar results to pelvic floor physical therapy if used consistently over a three-month period. It’s best to use an FDA-cleared device such as PeriCoach or the Leva Pelvic Health System.
Some of the devices are also app-enabled and include remote monitoring features allowing you to securely share health data and track your progress with a doctor. These convenient at-home devices are great options to start healing moderate bladder problems and improve pelvic floor issues.
Medications and minimally invasive procedures
There are a variety of innovative and simple in-office procedures performed by a doctor to help with urinary incontinence. Bulkamid®, is a urethral bulking agent for females with stress urinary incontinence. It is a water-based gel that consists of four injections directly into the wall of the urethra. Injectable Botox® can also be used for overactive bladder and can be used in combination with the Bulkamid. Botox is injected into the bladder muscle to treat bladder problems such as overactive bladder, urge incontinence, and leakage of urine and works by blocking nerve signals that can cause the bladder muscle to spasm involuntarily.
There are also treatment options for men who have overactive bladder issues caused by an enlarged prostate. This issue can be corrected with several new oral medications that are safe and effective and have fewer side effects. It’s always best to consult with a doctor to determine what treatment is best for your condition.
There are more options available today to treat pelvic health than ever before. The Pelvic Health Center at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center offers patients a network of doctors and pelvic floor therapists that can help create a personalized treatment plan designed specifically for your needs utilizing the least invasive therapies available for your condition.
The Pelvic Health Center at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center offers a comprehensive, multidisciplinary program for the evaluation, diagnosis and treatment of pelvic floor disorders including urinary incontinence (leaking of urine), fecal incontinence (passing of gas or stool involuntarily), pelvic organ prolapse (dropping of pelvic organs, including the vaginal walls, bladder, rectum and uterus), pelvic pain, overactive bladder symptoms, voiding disorders, such as urine retention and incomplete emptying of the bladder, and neurogenic voiding dysfunction (lack of bladder control in relation to the nervous system). The team of specialists uses current research and clinical standards with the latest technology to create individualized treatment plans that may include behavioral, medical, nonsurgical and surgical options.
Through a network of providers, The Pelvic Health Center offers patients access to urogynecologists, colorectal surgeons, gastroenterologists, obstetricians and gynecologists, pelvic floor physical therapists and urologists. The Center also provides minimally invasive surgical procedures performed by skilled pelvic surgeons, including fellowship-trained urogynecologists and pelvic floor disorder-experienced urologists, colorectal specialists, and gastroenterologists. The team of medical professionals at Long Beach Medical Center focuses on various conditions that affect men and women in the abdominal and pelvic regions to provide relief and improve your overall quality of life.
Want to learn more? Visit MemorialCare.org/PelvicHealth or call (562) 933-8512.