Understanding Pelvic Floor Disorders

Pelvic floor disorders are common disorders affecting many women and it is important to know these disorders should be treated and not just tolerated. These disorders are often treatable and Indiana University Health offers a wide array of comprehensive services to meet your needs. Use the tabs below to compare side-by-side the causes, symptoms and treatment options for the most common pelvic floor disorders.

Overview

The dropping of the vaginal walls along with the surrounding pelvic organs including:

  • Bladder (Cystocele prolapse)
  • Uterus (Uterine prolapse)
  • Vagina (Vaginal prolapse)
  • Small bowel (Enterocele prolapse)
  • Rectum (Rectocele prolapse)

IU Health understands the discomfort and inconvenience associated with pelvic organ prolapse. It is important for women to know pelvic organ prolapse should be treated and not just dealt with.

Nancy's Story

Nancy's Story

Causes

Weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles from:

  • Childbirth
  • Increased pressure on your pelvic floor muscles
  • Being overweight
  • Frequent constipation

Symptoms

  • General discomfort when standing or engaging in activity
  • Feeling of pressure against the vaginal wall
  • Organs or a bulge protruding through the vaginal opening
  • Feeling full in your lower stomach
  • Stretching or pulling in your groin
  • Urinary leakage
  • Pain during intercourse

Treatment Options

MILD PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE:

  • Kegels (squeezing exercises performed using the same muscles used to stop urine)
  • Weight management
  • Limit heavy lifting

SEVERE PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE:

  • Removable Pessary device (holds pelvic organs in place)
  • Surgery

Overview

The uncontrollable leakage of urine during everyday activities. There are two forms of urinary incontinence: stress and urge.

IU Health Urogynecology is here to provide you with treatment options to care for the common issue of urinary incontinence.

Causes

Stress incontinence can be caused by:

  • Childbirth
  • Weight gain
  • Any condition affecting the nerves controlling urethral muscles

Urge incontinence can be caused by:

  • Bladder irritation
  • Emotional stress
  • Overactive bladder
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Stroke

Symptoms

Stress incontinence can occur during:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Laughing
  • Jogging
  • Intercourse

Urge incontinence occurs when a women has the sudden strong urge to urinate but is unable to make it to the restroom.

Treatment Options

MILD URINARY INCONTINENCE:

  • Kegels (squeezing exercises performed using the same muscles used to stop urine)
  • Weight management
  • Limit heavy lifting
  • Reduced consumption of caffeine
  • Quitting smoking

SEVERE URINARY INCONTINENCE:

  • Removable Pessary device (holds pelvic organs in place)
  • Surgery
  • Physical therapy

Overview

While fecal incontinence can be an embarrassing condition for most people to talk about, it is important to discuss with your physician. It is generally not a serious medical condition, but can lead to emotional stress and interrupt daily life.

Causes

Fecal incontinence can be caused by many issues, including:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Nerve damage
  • Severe constipation
  • Cognitive disorders (such as stroke)

Symptoms

Fecal incontinence is the loss of control over bowel movements. Fecal incontinence could be the loss of only a small amount or an entire bowel movement.

Treatment Options

Fecal incontinence is normally treatable and often times can be cured completely.

MILD FECAL INCONTINENCE:

  • Medications
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Bowel training

SEVERE FECAL INCONTINENCE:

  • Surgical insertion of a device
  • Surgical repair of muscles
  • Surgical redirection of bowel movements

Overview

Pelvic floor pain is a common disorder, with more than half of women in the United States suffering from pelvic pain. Our highly skilled team can provide comprehensive care regardless of the cause of your pelvic floor pain.

Causes

In many cases, the cause is not obvious and is the result of many factors including problems with:

  • Reproductive system
  • Muscles of the pelvis, bladder or bowel
  • Gynecological disorders
  • Gastrointestinal disorders

Symptoms

Pelvic floor pain can include:

  • Chronic, steady pelvic pain
  • Pain that comes and goes
  • Aching and/or pressure
  • Difficult or frequent urination
  • Difficulty with bowel evacuation
  • Pain during intercourse

Treatment Options

Due to the many causes associated with pelvic floor pain, there can be a wide array of treatment options. Speak to your IU Health Urogynecologist to determine which treatment is best for you.