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Center for Pelvic Floor Disorders
Nearly one in three women will develop a pelvic floor disorder. At Massachusetts General Hospital, we bring patients lasting relief by treating not just their symptoms, but also the underlying causes.
The pelvic floor is a network of muscles, ligaments and tissues in the lower abdominal area. It acts like a hammock to support the uterus, bladder, vagina and rectum. Pelvic floor disorders are caused by tears, weakness or poor function of the muscles and nerves in the pelvic floor.
Generally, pelvic floor disorders:
Some pelvic floor disorders are similar to hernias, in which tissue protrudes abnormally. These include:
Other pelvic floor disorders are caused by muscle dysfunction or poor muscle coordination. These include:
Both men and women can suffer from pelvic floor disorders. However, the disorders are more common in women, particularly those who have undergone vaginal childbirth.
Factors contributing to pelvic floor disorders include:
There are several major types of pelvic floor disorders. Often, more than one pelvic organ is affected. At the Mass General Pelvic Floor Disorders Service, patients are examined and treated by a multidisciplinary team who together determine a comprehensive course of treatment.
Some pelvic floor disorders involve organ prolapse, in which the uterus, rectum, bladder, urethra, small bowel, and/or the vagina begin to fall out of their normal positions.
Types of pelvic organ prolapse include:
In some cases, an organ slips out of its original location but not necessarily outside of the body. Unless it protrudes through an orifice, a woman may not know that she has a prolapsed organ.
Rectal prolapse often affects nearby organs as well. Forty percent of women with rectal prolapse have associated uterine or bladder problems, including stress or urinary incontinence.
Other types of pelvic floor disorders are caused by muscle or nerve dysfunction or anatomical defect. These include:
There are many symptoms of pelvic floor disorders. At Massachusetts General Hospital, our multidisciplinary team of specialists addresses the complex and often interconnected problems underlying these symptoms. Our goal is to return every patient to health and well-being.
The pelvic floor is a network of muscles, ligaments and tissues in the lower abdominal area. It acts like a hammock to support the uterus, bladder, vagina and rectum. Pelvic floor disorders are caused by tears, weakness or poor function of the muscles and nerves in the pelvic floor. Common symptoms include:
Massachusetts General Hospital offers a variety of surgical and nonsurgical treatments for pelvic floor disorders, all designed to significantly improve function and alleviate pain and inconvenience. Our goal is to return every patient to health and well-being.
Pelvic floor disorders are under-reported and under-diagnosed. That’s because many patients are uncomfortable talking about their symptoms or assume these problems can’t be corrected. In fact, a variety of surgical and nonsurgical treatments can significantly improve function and alleviate pain and inconvenience.
As a first step, we do a thorough work-up to identify the underlying causes of each patient’s symptoms. We use comprehensive, state-of-the-art testing including:
After identifying the underlying problem, the care team works with the patient and referring physician to determine the best course of care. This may include any (or a combination) of the following:
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