Looking after your pelvic health is probably not something that has been on the top of your priority list. Most women don’t think about pelvic health until there is a problem. However, prevention is always better than having to be treated for something, and if you have had children, you’re at risk for pelvic health problems.
Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a problem that will affect as many as half of all childbearing women. Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is also very common in women who have given birth. Taking good care of yourself and your pelvic floor muscles can help you avoid these problems, or if you have already been diagnosed with SUI or POP, can help you find relief from troublesome symptoms.
Exercise plays an important role in pelvic health, whether you are focused on preventing problems like stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse or treating their symptoms.
These common pelvic floor disorders are caused by weakness in the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissues, so building or maintaining strength in the pelvic muscles is essential. Pelvic floor exercise, especially Kegels, are very important, but they must be done correctly to be effective, so seeing a physical therapist or fitness instructor for guidance may be your best bet.
Extra weight, especially in the abdominal area, increases pressure on pelvic floor muscles, so maintaining a healthy body weight is important in preventing strain and damage to pelvic floor muscles. If you already have a pelvic floor problem, losing weight can reduce your symptoms.
Taking a holistic approach to pelvic health is a strategy that can help in the treatment and prevention of pelvic support problems. Treating issues like poor posture, hormonal imbalance, chronic constipation, asthma and allergies can lower risk or reduce symptoms, since all of these issues can contribute to pelvic floor stress and weakness. Acupuncture, Chinese medicine, stress management and other holistic interventions can be very helpful in managing many of these issues.
Words of Caution
Women who have developed pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence and have found no relief in conservative treatments may require surgery. If surgery has been recommended for you, it is very important that you know exactly what you’re getting into. POP and SUI repair procedures have been a blessing to many women with severe symptoms, but some procedures are riskier than others. Among the riskiest are procedures that use transvaginal mesh implants to reinforce weakened tissues.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued safety alerts on these procedures, citing high rates of serious complications, such as mesh erosion, mesh protrusion, organ perforation, mesh shrinkage and infection. Several hundred women have sought out legal help and have filed vaginal mesh lawsuits. Furthermore, the FDA states that these procedures haven’t been shown to be more effective than traditional surgeries that do not use mesh implants.
Elizabeth Carrollton writes about defective medical devices and dangerous drugs for Drugwatch.