These specialists treat problems caused by pelvic floor disorders. The pelvic floor is a system of muscles, ligaments, nerves, and connective tissue that act as a “sling” to support the bladder, urethra, uterus, vagina, small bowel, and rectum. Pelvic floor disorders occur when these supportive structures are weakened or damaged. This can lead to urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse.
The main cause of pelvic floor disorders is thought to be childbirth, which places an extreme amount of stress on the supportive systems of the pelvic floor. And the risks increase each time you give birth. Other factors that may put you at a greater risk of developing a pelvic floor disorder include:
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when your pelvic floor structure does not do its job of keeping the pelvic organs in place so they can function normally. This can cause these organs to drop out of place, or prolapse. As these organs move out of position, they create problems. For instance, a prolapsed bladder can result in stress incontinence, which is urinary leakage caused by coughing, sneezing, and other routine activities.
Pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence occur in various degrees and are due to different conditions. Treatment options vary and may begin with simple lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet and weight loss, since obesity may contribute to pelvic floor disorders. Treatment may also include medications, use of pessary devices to support the vaginal wall, or minimally-invasive procedures such as a urethral slings for urinary leakage. More complex issues may require in-depth reconstructive surgery.