Maintaining pelvic health
Question: As a woman, I hear a lot about breast health, but what should I know about maintaining good pelvic health?
Answer: A woman's body is very unique and a medical specialty called gynecology is dedicated to supporting women's wellness, particularly breast and pelvic health. Many health issues affecting women result from pelvic conditions, including heavy periods, urinary incontinence and fibroids, all of which can be treated in numerous ways.
Heavy menstrual periods are a common female complaint, and these uncomfortable cycles can be caused by hormone imbalances, non-cancerous growths in the uterus called fibroids, certain medications, and less frequently, a disease like cancer. Birth control pills and other medications are often prescribed to regulate cycles. New minimally invasive procedures to control heavy bleeding are also available and can be performed in an outpatient setting. At times, a hysterectomy may be necessary if more conservative treatments are unsuccessful.
Nearly half of all U.S. women suffer from some form of urinary incontinence, marked by bladder leakage caused by coughing, exercising, or urgency to urinate. Most women can benefit from strengthening their pelvic floor muscles through a series of exercises called Kegels or electric stimulation to further build the muscle base.
Reducing caffeine intake can lessen symptoms, and in more serious cases, medication may be prescribed to address urgency. Minimally invasive techniques to treat the most common form of this condition, called stress incontinence, may also be recommended.
The most important thing a woman can do for her pelvic health is visit her gynecologist for an annual exam. During this appointment, she can discuss any health concerns and receive guidance on the best treatment options. She may also be screened for sexually transmitted diseases or gynecological cancers, depending on her age and health history. If any new symptoms appear before an annual exam, a woman should report them to her doctor immediately.
Page Last Modified: 11/11/2013