Just as there are different types of pelvic floor disorders, there is no one-size-fits all treatment for pelvic floor disorders. The clinicians in the Pelvic Floor Disorders Center at Massachusetts General Hospital work with patients to develop individualized treatment plans for each patient based on her specific needs and issues. However, if you're struggling with a pelvic floor disorder, there are a number of self-help measures you can take to supplement your clinical plan.
- Strengthen your core. You've likely heard of Kegel exercises. This squeeze-and-hold vaginal exercise, developed by Dr. Arnold Kegel in the 1940’s, was designed to target the pelvic floor area. Strengthening the core muscles also supports strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Exercises such as Pilates and yoga are excellent ways to strengthen the entire area of the pelvic floor.
- Practice fluid management. Limit fluids, especially caffeine and alcohol to address symptoms of urinary incontinence and frequency. Caffeine and alcohol speed up urine output and may also make the bladder more irritable.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Excess weight puts pressure on the pelvic area. Losing those excess pounds can reduce symptoms of pelvic floor disorders, as well as reduce your chance of developing diabetes, a condition that may also be associated with urinary incontinence. A diet high in fiber will keep your digestive system and colon happy. Reduce your use of processed foods which can also lead to constipation.
- Avoid smoking. Quit or limit the number of cigarettes you smoke to decrease your chances of urinary incontinence. If you can reduce coughing, you will see improvements.
- Ignore your bladder. It may sound counter-intuitive, but our bladders are conditioned by our behavior. How often do you come home from work and instinctively have to use the restroom? Don’t void out of habit. Instead, work to retrain your bladder. The average woman should only need to void four to six times during the day.
When to Seek Help for Your Pelvic Floor Disorder
Many women suffer in silence with problems related to the pelvic floor organs, but this is not necessary. If you experience any symptoms that affect your daily activities, you should see a specialist. These symptoms may include:
- Heaviness or pressure in the area of the vagina or pelvis
- A bulge of tissue coming through the vaginal opening
- Accidental loss of urine or stool
- Frequent or unexpected urges to urinate
- Difficulty urinating
The Pelvic Floor Disorders Center at Mass General is a multidisciplinary team of gastroenterologists, gynecologists, colorectal surgeons and nurse practitioners. This team works together to evaluate patients to determine the best course of therapy. The Pelvic Floor Disorders Center offers a range of non-surgical options, including bladder training, biofeedback, electrical stimulation, physical therapy, medication, vaginal support rings and weighted cones to help address pelvic floor disorders. When non-surgical options fail or the patient prefers surgery, the most advanced, minimally invasive procedures are offered. Learn more about pelvic floor disorders.