How to Talk about PFD
Pelvic floor disorders (PFD) can be an uncomfortable topic, but they need to be discussed in order to get properly treated. If you think your mother, sister, wife or other loved one is suffering from PFD, these conversation starters, statistics on PFD and tips for how to talk to a doctor will be helpful in starting the dialogue.
- Conversation Starters
- PFD Points of Reference
- Talking with a Doctor
If you suspect a loved one is suffering from a pelvic floor disorder (PFD), empower her to seek help. Though you may be nervous about talking about PFD, you can initiate an open dialogue by introducing the topic with these conversation starters:
- I noticed you have been going to the bathroom frequently throughout the day/night.
- I read some really interesting information about pelvic floor disorders the other day and thought you might be interested to know that a lot of women have similar problems that can be treated.
- I have noticed you haven't been as active as you have been in the past. Is it related to your leaking problem?
- Have you noticed leakage when you are coughing, laughing or lifting heavy objects?
If you loved one's response indicated that she may have PFD, Schedule an appointment with her primary care doctor, gynecologist or a urogynecologist for an evaluation.
To find a provider in your area, visit the AUGS Find a Provider Section.
PFD Points of Reference
Use these facts in conversation to help your loved one recognize that she is not alone and that help is available.
- Pelvic floor disorders are not considered a normal part of aging that you just have to live with. They are medical conditions that can be successfully treated.
- Women may spend more than $900 per year purchasing pads and other products to cope with their incontinence, instead of seeking treatment – but they don’t have to.
- Women who suffer from pelvic floor disorders tend not to report their condition due to embarrassment. But they should not be embarrassed, many women suffer from PFD.
- More than 50 percent of women age 55 and older suffer one or more of the problems caused by pelvic floor disorders.
- 30 percent of women with overactive bladder or urinary incontinence also suffer from loss of bowel control.
- 60 percent of nursing home occupants suffer from loss of bowel control and/or urinary incontinence.
- Urogynecologists are physicians who are specially trained to treat pelvic floor disorders in women.
Talking with a Doctor
It can be difficult to talk about problems such as incontinence or vaginal bulges, even with a doctor. However doctors are used to talking about these problems, and it's important for you to encourage your wife, mother, sister or other loved one to openly speak with their primary care physician (PCP) about their issues “down there” so the doctor can identify the appropriate next steps.
Women who may be experiencing pelvic floor problems, such as bulging, leaking or difficulty with urination or bowel movements, may be wondering how to bring it up with their health-care provider. This tool will assist you with initiating the conversation with your primary health-care provider, and to making a sensitive topic a little easier to discuss.
Even if you don’t fill in the answers ahead of time, we feel it is very important to think about the questions, if you think you may have a pelvic floor problem. Remember, if you are leaking or bulging this is not a “normal” part of growing older, and you should engage in a discussion with your health-care provider to determine future treatment options.
To get the dialogue flowing, answer the questions in the "Talking with your Doctor" tool with your loved one and share it with her physician.
Download Tips for Talking with your Doctor (PDF)
Original publication date: May, 2008; Content updated: March, 2012