Pelvic floor disorders affect millions of women each year. People with pelvic muscle weakness may experience problems with urinary incontinence (UI), fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse (POP). Understanding the symptoms of these conditions can help women receive better treatment. However, most women, especially women of color, are lacking knowledge in these disorders, according to a new study by researchers at Yale School of Medicine.
The cross-sectional study included 431 women of all ages (19-98 years), races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Researchers found that 71.2% of these women lacked UI proficiency, and 48.1% lacked knowledge about POP. After adjusting for age, education, and household income, results showed that black women and a combined group of Asian, Hispanic, and other non-white women, understood less about UI and POP than white women. The researchers also found that most women who reported incontinence symptoms had not received treatment for their bladder control problems.
The Yale researchers suggested that UI and POP are chronic medical conditions that should be included in routine screening questions during doctor visits. More studies need to be done to educate all women on the prevalence of pelvic floor disorders, what the symptoms are, and how to treat these conditions.
“If we can improve knowledge about pelvic floor disorders, we may be able to improve outcomes for all women,” said corresponding author Dr. Marsha K. Guess.
Symptoms for incontinence include involuntary leakage of urine, sudden urges to urinate and frequent urination. Women with pelvic organ prolapse may experience pelvic pressure, frequent urination, constipation, and a feeling as if something is falling out of the vagina. Treatment options include pelvic floor exercises, biofeedback therapy, and surgery.
Source: American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology – 14 October 2013 (10.1016/j.ajog.2013.10.011)