There are certain things in life that are deemed too taboo for discussion, and female urologic conditions are often high on that list. Our mothers typically have done their jobs to prepare us for menstruation, but when it comes to other conditions that can arise after pregnancy and as we age, women are often left to fend for themselves. And where does that leave us? For many, it can lead to silently suffering through painful conditions that we are too embarrassed to talk about instead of seeking the appropriate treatment.
Female urologic conditions like overactive bladder, incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and pain with intercourse are not comfortable to talk about, but they can cause stress and distress in your social life, everyday activities or in your relationships if you don’t get them checked out.
Overactive bladder, also called OAB, causes a frequent and sudden urge to urinate that may be difficult to control. No one warns us that one day we may need to keep track of where all the restrooms are on our way to work or while out shopping. The frequent need to urinate can rule our lives, keeping us from doing the things we love to do. But it doesn’t have to! There is an array of available treatment options for OAB, including behavioral changes like decreasing caffeine and alcohol intake, beginning pelvic floor therapy, receiving Botox to improve bladder muscle relaxation, and devices like Axonics Sacral Neuromodulation, that can be placed in the bladder to modulate the nerves.
Urinary incontinence is a common issue that many women may find embarrassing to address. The two most common types of incontinence are stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is a result of physical activity or increases in abdominal pressure. It can cause you to leak urine when you cough, sneeze or even laugh. Urge incontinence is a sudden, intense urge to urinate followed by an involuntary loss of urine. Stress urinary incontinence is the most common occurring form of incontinence in women under the age of 60. One in every two to three women in the U.S. experience SUI at some time in their lives. Some treatment options include pelvic floor muscle exercises like kegels, pelvic floor stimulation, surgical options and injection therapy among others.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
One of the more shocking female urologic conditions is pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is a hernia of the pelvic organs to or through the vaginal opening. When these muscles are weakened, the bladder, uterus or rectum can bulge or “drop” into the vagina. Those affected may notice a bulge coming from their vagina. It can be common after pregnancy, but it’s not very common generally. Only about 3% of women in the U.S. are affected by pelvic organ prolapse. There are surgical treatment options, including a hysterectomy and cystocele repair, and non-surgical treatment options including kegel exercises, biofeedback and pessaries.
Pain with Intercourse
You may have heard all about the birds and the bees at one point in your life, but that one talk might have been the extent of your conversations about intercourse with your mother. Vaginal pain during sex may be caused by insufficient lubrication resulting from low estrogen levels or inadequate foreplay. Inflammation, infection, skin problems, or reaction to a birth control product, injury, trauma, irritation, episiotomy or pelvic surgery can contribute to pain. Topical estrogen cream is often used as a treatment for vaginal pain to provide lubrication and minimize voiding dysfunction.
Left untreated, these issues can snowball into other medical problems that can impact the quality of our lives. It is important to cast aside social stigma, and make sure that you are making your health your number one priority. No woman should suffer through any of these conditions in silence.
If you are experiencing symptoms of any of these conditions, please reach out and schedule an appointment. Find a MidLantic Urology office near you here.
This article was written by Darlene Gaynor-Krupnick, DO, FACOS. Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick specializes in female urology and is fellowship trained in female pelvic medicine, reconstructive surgery and neurourology. Dr. Gaynor-Krupnick practices out of MidLantic Urology’s Wynnewood office and Broomall Ambulatory Surgery.