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Embarrassed to Ask

December 28, 2018

Some topics just feel difficult to bring up—especially when it comes to your pelvic and gynecologic health. Your physician is there to help with all your health care needs, even the ones that might embarrass you. However, knowing more about these common topics might help you to feel more comfortable talking about your concerns.

Bladder control and issues

If you’re dealing with bladder incontinence, you aren’t alone.

“Nearly half of women complain of one or more types of leakage by the time they experience menopause,” says Janelle Evans, MD, urogynecologist at Southview Medical Center.

Women deal with two types of bladder incontinence: stress incontinence and urge incontinence.

Stress incontinence is primarily caused by trauma from childbirth, and commonly occurs when a woman coughs, sneezes, or exercises. Urge incontinence can be caused by a number of diseases and represents a malfunctioning of communication between the bladder and the brain.

Dr. Evans recommends seeing your doctor to discuss the issue. “If someone is experiencing leakage, it is very important she address it with her OB-GYN or primary care provider,” Dr. Evans says.

A primary care provider may refer someone to a urogynecologist, like Dr. Evans, who specializes in all forms of incontinence and sees women 18 and older who complain of either or both types of leakage.

Promote your pelvic health

Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition that occurs when the uterus, rectum, or vaginal wall begin to drop due to muscle and ligament weakness or damage. This condition could cause a variety of symptoms including pelvic pain or pressure, difficulty urinating, lower back pain, or urinary tract infections.

To prevent or manage pelvic floor problems, such as prolapse or incontinence, Kegel exercises are recommended.

“Kegel exercises are controlled exercises to strengthen the large muscles that are in the pelvic floor,” says Dr. Evans. “Women should ideally do these exercises two to three times a day for 10 controlled repetitions.”

The difficulty with Kegel exercises is that many people who learn to do them on their own do them incorrectly, so it is best to see a gynecologist or pelvic physical therapist who can assist with proper form.

Urinary tract infections

If you’re experiencing frequent, painful urination, you might have a urinary tract infection, as these are the most common symptoms. However, these are not the only symptoms of a UTI, so it’s important to see a physician to confirm your diagnosis.

“A UTI can manifest in many ways,” says Dr. Evans. “A physician should always test to ensure that’s what you’re experiencing, especially after menopause.”

Some women are more prone to UTIs than others, so antibiotics may be the best course of treatment. They also may be prescribed as a form of prevention.

Pain and frequency of urination can also indicate other, more serious conditions that cannot be treated with the course of antibiotics that you may be given for a UTI. By getting your urine tested, your physician can better understand which antibiotic is best for you—or if something else is going on that requires alternative treatment.

Take the next step

Start the conversation about a referral to our services with your OB-GYN or primary care provider.

To learn more about pelvic health and if a seeing a urogynecologist is right for you, visit our urogynecology website.