Many women experience issues with their continence, which is the ability to ‘hold on’ when you need to go to the toilet. Incontinence can range in severity from a minor leak to total loss of bladder or bowel control.
It is also common for women to experience issues with their pelvic floor, which is the group of muscles at the base of your pelvis that supports the bladder and uterus. The pelvic floor supports continence and so the two are closely linked. While these issues are common amongst women, most are highly treatable.
Common pelvic floor and continence disorders include:
Pelvic organ prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the bladder, uterus or the bowl protrudes into the vagina. Pelvic organ prolapse affects up to 50% of women after childbirth but can be experienced by non-childbearing women too. Prolapse occurs when a woman has a weakened pelvic floor or damaged pelvic floor ligaments. Whilst its most often caused by pregnancy and childbirth, aging or other health and lifestyle issues such as prolonged constipation or heavy lifting can cause it too.
Voiding disorders are when you can’t completely empty (or ‘void’) your bladder, leading to discomfort and sometimes incontinence. These disorders can be caused by pelvic organ prolapse or other medical issues such as a history of incontinence surgery, or a mass or lesions in the bladder area.
An overactive bladder is referred to as needing to use the toilet to pass urine either suddenly and urgently on a regular basis or needing to pass urine many times during the day as well as at night. There can be many causes for an overactive bladder and it is best to discuss your specific circumstances with your doctor.
Urinary incontinence is defined as accidentally or involuntarily leaking urine. This can affect up to 40% of Australian women. Pregnancy and childbirth are the main causes of urinary incontinence, but you should always discuss your symptoms with your doctor as there may be other reasons for your incontinence.
Recurrent urinary tract infection
When you have three or more urinary tract infections (UTIs) with proven bacteria presence in a year, it is recommended you seek support. Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria entering the urethra and multiplying, which can cause painful symptoms. This bacteria can enter the urethra through sexual activity, but it can also happen for other reasons.
Pelvic mesh-related complications
Pelvic mesh-related complications can result from complications with surgical mesh. These are very serious and should be discussed with your doctor.
Postpartum bladder dysfunction
Postpartum bladder dysfunction refers to any issues experienced with the bladder after having a baby.
Treatment options will depend on your specific condition, symptoms and circumstances, but can include exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, lifestyle modifications, bladder training or medication. For more serious conditions or where conservative or medical management has not been effective, surgery may also be an option.
Your doctor should discuss your treatment options clearly and respectfully with you. They may refer you to a multi-disciplinary support team including a physiotherapist who can design specific pelvic exercises for you.
Specialist Care at Frances Perry House
Frances Perry House is home to a range of experienced and highly reputable Gynaecologists and Urogynaecologists with experience in many women's health issues including continence and pelvic floor disorders.
To book a consultation with a Gynaecologist or Urogynaecologist at Frances Perry house, please request a referral from your GP. You can choose a specialist using our specialist search tool.