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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 healthcare 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 Dr. Janelle Evans, a urogynecologist for Kettering Health.
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 several 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 begins to drop. This is usually due to muscle and ligament weakness or damage. This can cause various 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 in the pelvic floor,” says Dr. Evans. “Women should ideally do these exercises two to three times daily for 10 controlled repetitions.”
Many people learn kegels independently and 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. 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. Antibiotics may be the best treatment, but they can 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 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 requires alternative treatment.
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