It can be difficult to talk about problems such as incontinence or vaginal bulges, even with a healthcare provider. However, providers—and especially urogynecologists—are used to talking about these problems. And, to get proper treatment for pelvic floor disorders (PFDs), you need to talk about them.
Go Ahead, Ask
If you think your mother, sister, wife or other loved one is suffering from a pelvic floor disorder, the following tips may be helpful in starting the dialogue.
If you are nervous about discussing PFDs, try these conversation starters:
- I noticed you have been going to the bathroom frequently during the day and at night.
- I read some 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 your loved one thinks she may have a PFD, offer to schedule an appointment for her with a primary care doctor, gynecologist or a urogynecologist for an evaluation. Also, ask about the two of you answering the questions in the "Talking with your Doctor" tool together, so that she can share the responses with her physician.
Let Her Know She is Not Alone
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 a normal part of aging that you just have to live with. They are medical conditions. There are treatments for PFDs.
- Many women 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. Don’t be embarrassed, many women suffer from PFD. Our site allows you to talk with others who are affected with PFDs.
- More than 50 percent of women age 55 and older suffer one or more of the problems caused by pelvic floor disorders.
- One in three women (30 percent) with overactive bladder or urinary incontinence also suffer from loss of bowel control.
- More than half (60 percent) of nursing home occupants suffer from loss of bowel control and/or urinary incontinence.
- Urogynecologists are physicians with special training in treating pelvic floor disorders in women.
Connect with Other Caregivers
Below are links to organizations whose primary focus is providing resources to caregivers, treatment information, and a forum for caregivers to discuss their experiences with PFD.
In addition, check out other organizations with patient information about pelvic floor disorders.
Share Openly with Your Doctor
How do you begin to discuss pelvic floor problems, such as bulging, leaking or difficulty with urination or bowel movements, with your health care provider?
Tips for Talking with your Doctor and Get Prepped for Your First Visit offer ways to start the conversation with your doctor. They can help you get the words out and make this sensitive topic a little easier to discuss. Even if you don’t fill in the answers ahead of time, think about the questions.
If you are leaking or bulging this is not a “normal” part of growing older. Take a step towards learning about treatment options. Talk with your health care provider. PFDs are not something you need to live with. Effective help is available through the services of a urogyn.
If you are experiencing PFD symptoms, request a thorough evaluation. Ask your provider for a referral to a urogynecologist, if necessary. Find a urogyn in your area:
Be a Health Advocate
Educated consumers. That’s what we all have to be in today’s health “marketplace.” Here are a few tips of being a health advocate for yourself and your loved ones!
Do Your Research
Gather information about the diagnosis, PFD treatment options, and the types of treatment your insurance company covers.
Take an Active Role in Your Health Care
Be diligent about your health care. Moreover, don’t hesitate to ask a family member or friend to accompany you to doctor’s appointments and help:
- Writing questions down in advance to eliminate pressure during the appointment due to time constraints.
- Keeping a list of prescription and over-the-counter medicines—and, updating it regularly to bring it to all doctor’s visits.
- Obtaining operative reports from prior pelvic surgeries.
It may take a few meetings with your doctor before you feel comfortable talking about PFD. Remember that urogyns spend their day talking with women about these issues. And, they can help.
Don’t Accept the Limitations
Many women who suffer from pelvic floor disorders are embarrassed. This may stop them from visiting a doctor. Or, they may limit their activities to discourage leaking. PFD is treatable. Seek help.
Learn How to Provide Proper Physical Care
Some treatment options may require that you have a loved one take an active role in your care. If necessary, your urogyn and the nursing staff can train them to ensure they can provide great care.
Assure your loved one that she will retain decision-making power and be a central part of all discussions and decisions regarding her health and health care.