If you have a pelvic floor disorder, don’t suffer in silence. Tell your doctor about your symptoms and ask which treatments might be right for you. These questions will help you start the conversation.
Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery Program
Explore This Treatment Program
About This Program
Women with urinary incontinence or problems related to changes in the pelvic organs often suffer in silence. Many patients are uncomfortable talking about their symptoms or assume these problems can’t be corrected. Too often, rather than seeking medical help, they endure countless inconveniences along with a decline in quality of life.
Our staff in the Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery Program (FPMRS) includes obstetricians, gynecologists, clinical fellows and nurse practitioners who understand a woman's changing needs throughout her lifetime. We work as a tightly knit team, sharing our expertise to offer you individualized care for your particular symptoms.
You can count on our team to provide compassionate care for group of conditions called pelvic floor disorders that may be difficult to discuss, including:
- Pelvic organ prolapse (when pelvic organs slip out of place and descend towards or through the opening of the vagina, putting pressure on the bladder, urethra or other parts of the pelvis)
- Urinary incontinence (leaking urine), including stress incontinence, urge incontinence and overflow incontinence
- Bladder function problems not related to urinary tract infections
- Bladder or urethral fistulas or diverticuli and rectal fistulas
- Fecal incontinence and constipation
We take pride in developing individualized urogynecologic treatment plans for each patient, incorporating the most advanced surgical and nonsurgical options available.
Our treatment philosophy, and the preference of most patients, is to avoid surgery whenever possible. Many symptoms can be address using nonsurgical approaches such as:
- Targeted physical therapy: Our physical therapists specialize in the muscles of the pelvic floor, treating disorders such as pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence
- Pessary use: Placing a removable device such as this into the vagina can provide support to treat prolapse of the uterus or vaginal walls as well as improve urinary incontinence
- Biofeedback: Using biofeedback methods may help patients learn to identify, strengthen and control pelvic floor muscles
- Mind/body medicine: Mind/body techniques such as meditation can empower women who experience urinary incontinence and other bladder disorders
For patients who do require surgery, we are committed to developing and introducing minimally invasive procedures that involve less pain and a shorter recovery time. Examples include:
- Slings to treat stress urinary incontinence: We insert a thin piece of material under the urethra or bladder neck to provide support and improve continence
- Vaginal surgery to treat pelvic organ prolapse: Vaginal surgery using incisions hidden inside the vagina
- Laparoscopic surgery to treat pelvic organ prolapse: In certain cases, we can use laparoscopic techniques, which require only small incisions in the abdomen
- Robotic surgery: In June 2008 we became the first urogynecology group in Boston to offer robotic surgery to treat pelvic organ prolapse
What to Expect
Patients can access our services in several convenient locations: on the hospital's main campus in Boston and at Mass General Waltham.
Prior to your visit we will ask you to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire to help us understand your symptoms better. This questionnaire can be filled out on paper or online.
During your first visit, you and your doctor will talk about the symptoms you are experiencing. Your doctor will also conduct a comprehensive physical examination. As a next step, you may need to schedule urodynamic testing of your bladder and urethra function.
At your follow-up appointment, you and your doctor will discuss an individualized treatment plan that targets your particular condition. We often recommend patients begin with nonsurgical approaches, such as targeted physical therapy, which can be quite effective for treating mild prolapse, incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders.
If nonsurgical approaches are ineffective—or inappropriate for your condition—only then do we proceed with surgery. Our physicians are highly skilled in performing the full spectrum of surgical procedures, including minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgeries.
May Wakamatsu, MD, vice-chair of gynecology and chief of the FPMRS Program, trained under the late David Nichols, MD, a nationally known gynecologic vaginal surgeon. Our staff includes fellowship-trained physicians who practice OB/GYN and specialize in urogynecologic surgery. In addition to our physicians, we have experienced urogynecologic nurses who provide support.
- Director, Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery
- Vice Chair, Gynecology
- Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery Associate Fellowship Director
- Associate Obstetrics & Gynecology clerkship director, Harvard Medical School
- Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, Harvard Medical School
- Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgeon
- Instructor, Harvard Medical School
- Program Director, Fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery
- Co-chair, Center for Pelvic Floor Disorders
- Director of Research, Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery Fellowship
Collaborative Care from Pelvic Health Specialists
The Center for Pelvic Floor Disorders provides individualized care from a multidisciplinary team.
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