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Norton Women’s Care Pelvic Health Program specializes in caring for women with pelvic health conditions. A team of specialists, physical therapists and health care professionals is available to ensure you get back to the life you were meant to live — full of joy, activity, intimacy and strength. We can help you take your first steps toward feeling like yourself again.
Pelvic health issues are more common than you might think. More than 40 percent of women between the ages of 60 and 79 and at least half of women age 80 and older have a pelvic disorder.
Pelvic disorders aren’t just a “change of life” issue; childbirth and cesarean sections contribute to pelvic health issues for women in their 20s and 30s, especially those who have given birth to more than one child. Other pelvic health conditions, such as excessive bleeding and endometriosis, affect younger women as well.
Any woman experiencing a pelvic health issue knows it can easily affect quality of life. What many women may not know is that these issues are treatable. New therapies, medications and procedures offer hope to women currently coping with their symptoms alone.
Pelvic health includes care of the female reproductive system, pelvis and pelvic floor. The female reproductive system includes the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, cervix and vagina. The pelvis is composed of the hip bones in front and sacrum and coccyx in back. It protects the reproductive, urinary and digestive systems. The pelvic floor is a term used to describe the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues that support the bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum.
Half of all women in the United States have never talked with a physician about care, management or treatment of pelvic health symptoms. Embarrassing bladder accidents, irregular periods and uncomfortable intercourse are just some of the pelvic health issues women of all ages can experience.
Myths about pelvic health disorders:
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Perimenopause is a transitional phase before menopause when changes begin to occur in a woman’s body. Women might experience irregular periods, hot flashes, sleep disturbances, vaginal dryness, mood swings, irritability or depression. Because symptoms can be subtle and come on gradually, many women don’t realize they are connected to perimenopause.
Uterine fibroids are benign (noncancerous) growths in the wall of the uterus. More than 75 percent of women have small fibroids, but only about 30 percent have fibroids large enough to be discovered during a regular pelvic examination. Of these, about 80 percent will have no symptoms and require no treatment — just watchful waiting.
Common symptoms of uterine fibroids include heavy menstrual bleeding, prolonged menstrual periods and pelvic pressure or pain. The exact cause of fibroids is unknown. The risk of fibroids is increased in women ages 25 to 35, obese women, African-American women or those who have a family history of fibroids. Medications and treatment options are available to shrink and remove fibroids if necessary.
A pelvic floor disorder, or pelvic organ prolapse, is when pelvic organs drop down due to weakened or damaged muscles and nerves in the pelvic floor. As a result, the bladder, uterus or bowels sit lower than normal and create an uncomfortable bulge, which often feels like pressure. Pelvic organ prolapse, or dropped bladder, may also cause an involuntary loss of urine, gas or stool, called urinary and bowel incontinence.
Pelvic floor disorders may sound scary and embarrassing. The good news is with an accurate diagnosis, these issues can be treated, managed and often eliminated.
Approximately 80 percent of women experiencing bladder leakage or urinary incontinence can be cured or at least have their symptoms improved. Treatments include medications to calm the bladder, urethral inserts and pessaries. Several surgical options also are available. Talk with your physician about treatment options and at-home solutions that can be paired with treatment.
Sexual dysfunction is broadly defined as the inability to fully enjoy sexual intercourse. Health issues that may interfere with a healthy sex life include loss of lubrication and elasticity of vaginal tissues due to lower estrogen levels, which can make intercourse painful. Help is available — you are never too old to enjoy a full sexual life.
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