Pelvic Health Issues: Don’t Suffer in Silence
Just a pain in the side? Perhaps you’ve noticed a change in your periods as you age: more painful cramping before and after your cycle, heavier flow, or periods that last longer than normal. Many women who experience pain and discomfort brush it off as a sign of menopause. While true for some, such symptoms may indicate a bigger problem. “About one-third of U.S. women will experience a pelvic disorder before age 60,” noted Nicholas Lindberg, MD, OB/GYN.
“Fortunately, treatments are available to help these women return to a more normal way of life.” Common conditions include:
Heavy periods, known as menorraghia, affect about one in three women. Symptoms include periods lasting longer than seven days, fatigue or shortness of breath, passing large blood clots, and soaking through one or more tampons or pads in one hour.
Uterine fibroids are small non-cancerous tumors that grow in a woman’s uterus. While one in five women may develop fibroids during childbearing years, that number grows to half of women by age 50. Fibroids can cause periods to be heavy, painful, and last longer than normal. They can cause bleeding between periods, pain during intercourse, and frequent urination.
Pelvic floor disorders are caused by a weakening of the pelvic muscles due to aging, childbearing, or genetics. Pelvic muscles support the internal organs—including the vagina, uterus, cervix, and rectum. “Muscle weakening can lead to urinary or bowel incontinence, overactive bladder, or constipation,” said Donald DeBrakeleer, MD, OB/GYN. “Severe weakening can cause a prolapse of organs, which occurs when tissue begins to drop through the vaginal opening.”
Endometriosis, typically diagnosed in women under age 35, occurs when endometrial cells implant outside the uterus. These may cause pain and cramping before and after menstruation, as well as pain during bowel movements and after sexual intercourse. Endometriosis is a genetic condition—a family history can increase the likelihood of developing the disorder by ten-fold.
Talk with your doctor if you have any of these issues. Find a gynecologist through our Physician Referral Line at 215-453-4300 or click here to find a physician online.