Lioudmila Lipetskaia, MD, MSc, FACOG
Board-Certified Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeon
Ripa Center for Women’s Health and Wellness at Cooper
Q: What are pelvic floor disorders?
A: Pelvic floor disorders are a result of weakened pelvic muscles or tears in the connective tissue of the pelvis. Over time, the pelvic floor is not able to support the organs as effectively, which can affect the function of the bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum.
Q: What are symptoms of a pelvic floor disorder?
A: There are multiple symptoms of a pelvic floor disorder, such as:
- Frequent urination – day, night, or both.
- Urine leakage with little or no warning, sometimes not making it to the bathroom in time.
- Inability to completely empty bladder.
- Accidental urine leakage with physical activity with exercising, sneezing, or coughing.
- Problems with bowel function – accidental loss or leakage of stool.
- Feeling of a bulge protruding past the vaginal opening.
Q: Does it only affect women who have had children?
A: While excessive strain due to childbirth can lead to a pelvic floor disorder, there are many other potential factors such as, repeated strenuous activity, menopause, pelvic surgery, repetitive heavy lifting, tobacco use, and genetics. In fact, 1 in 4 women 20 years and older suffer from one or more pelvic floor disorders.
Q: Will Kegel exercises help?
A: Pelvic exercises can stop the progression of prolapse or incontinence — and sometimes reverse it. However, if performed incorrectly, they can not only be ineffective, but possibly make certain conditions worse. In order to identify exercises that are appropriate and effective in meeting your needs, it is recommended to work with a pelvic floor physical therapist, who is much like a personal coach for your pelvic floor.
Q: Is surgery the only treatment option?
A: While surgery is sometimes necessary due to the severity of a patient’s condition and overall health, there is a wide variety of non-surgical treatment options available as well. Non surgical treatment options include: medications, targeted physical therapy, behavioral and lifestyle modifications, non-invasive pelvic support devices, biofeedback, and nerve stimulation.
Q: If I ignore my symptoms, will they eventually go away?
A: Symptoms of a pelvic floor disorder are not likely to resolve on their own. Over time, they can lead to long-term issues like chronic pelvic pain and incomplete bladder emptying, which can ultimately cause damage to the kidneys.
Q: What type of doctor treats patients with pelvic floor disorders?
A: Urogynecologists (more recently referred to as Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeons) are specially trained to diagnose and treat women with pelvic floor disorders. Urogynecologists complete medical school and a residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology or Urology and then additional years of training and certification in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lipetskaia, call 856.325.6622.