Pelvic floor disorders such as pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence can significantly impact a woman’s quality of life. While pelvic floor disorders are more common in older women, they are not a normal part of aging. Fortunately, many pelvic floor disorders are easily treatable. At NewYork-Presbyterian, urogynecologists — physicians who specialize in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery — provide compassionate and comprehensive care to women with pelvic floor disorders that are tailored to a woman’s unique needs to maximize health and wellbeing.
Causes of pelvic floor disorders
Pelvic floor disorders are problems that affect women’s pelvic organs, including the uterus, vagina, bladder, urethra and rectum, and the muscles of the pelvic floor that surround and support them. These disorders occur when the muscles or connective tissue of the pelvic area weaken or are injured. One out of three women will experience a pelvic floor disorder in her lifetime. Childbirth, obesity, heavy lifting , surgery or chronic disease can cause pelvic floor damage.
Many women are reluctant or embarrassed to talk with their clinicians about their pelvic floor symptoms, or they think their symptoms are part of the normal aging process. Pelvic floor disorders are actually very common problems that can be successfully treated.
At NewYork-Presbyterian, we understand how upsetting and disruptive pelvic floor disorders can be. Our urogynecologists listen carefully to each patient to understand her symptoms and concerns. We take time to counsel and educate each patient about her condition and her treatment options, which may include nonsurgical and surgical treatments. We use the least invasive therapies to minimize complications and recovery times for the best outcomes.
Signs & symptoms
Symptoms of a pelvic floor disorder include:
- Heaviness, fullness, pulling, or aching in the vagina that gets worse by the end of the day
- Feeling a “bulge” or “something coming out” of the vagina
- Difficulty starting to urinate or emptying the bladder completely
- Leaking urine when coughing, laughing, or exercising
- Urgent or frequent need to urinate
- Pain while urinating
Tests & diagnosis
At NewYork-Presbyterian, we understand how upsetting and disruptive pelvic floor disorders can be. Our urogynecologists listen carefully to each patient to understand her symptoms and concerns. We take time to counsel and educate each patient about her condition and her treatment options. Together, our physicians and patients develop a personalized treatment plan that meets each woman’s needs and goals.
Clinicians can often detect pelvic floor disorders during a physical exam. Depending on the findings from the exam or the severity of the symptoms, additional tests may be ordered to help with diagnosis or treatment planning.
Tests that may be offered to identify bladder control problems include:
- Cystoscopy: Examines the insides of the bladder to look for problems, such as bladder stones, tumors, or inflammation.
- Urinalysis: Detect bladder infection, kidney problems, or diabetes.
- Urodynamics testing: Evaluates the function of the bladder and urethra.
Our Approach to Care
Women may experience one or several different pelvic floor disorders as they transition through life stages including pregnancy, the post-partum period and menopause. At NewYork-Presbyterian, we combine the expertise of doctors across multiple specialties to address pelvic floor issues for women at every age. Our urogynecologists closely collaborate with specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology, Urology, and Gastroenterology and Colorectal Surgery to formulate a comprehensive plan tailored to each woman’s specific condition and treatment goals. We also work closely with specialists in Pain Management, Physical Therapy and Integrative Medicine to treat all aspects of a woman’s health and well-being affected by the pelvic floor disorder, including other conditions that commonly occur together. Treatments range from non-surgical approaches such as pelvic floor behavior modification and exercises to the latest cutting-edge, minimally invasive surgery approaches.
Treatments we offer
Our clinicians provide a full range of non-surgical and surgical treatments for pelvic floor conditions including minimally invasive surgery and long-term management.