|Dr. Uduak Andy|
The decision to seek treatment is up to the patient, Dr. Andy explains. “It depends on how much it bothers the woman.”
That said, some women live in a state of denial about how much their pelvic floor disorders change their lives.
There comes a time when seeking treatment is in your best interest. Here are five clues it’s time to see a doctor for your pelvic floor issues.
1. When you start to experience depression and self confidence issues“Incontinence is associated with depression, isolation, and a worsened quality of life,” says Dr. Andy.
Depression caused by pelvic floor disorders can create a self-perpetuating cycle: You avoid social situations and other activities because you’re depressed, but that avoidance only worsens the depression.
2. When you stop doing activities you used to enjoy“If a woman has to worry about something in between her legs, she’s probably not going out as much or doing as many things as she wants to,” Dr. Andy explains.
“If she has to wear a diaper every time she leaves the house, she may not engage in things like sports.”
Many women don’t realize just how much they miss these activities until they start doing them again after treatment. Dr. Andy has seen firsthand how treatment for pelvic floor disorders helped women return to their normal routines.
3. When you start avoiding sex“Both incontinence and prolapse can interfere with people’s sex lives,” says Dr. Andy.
“A lot of women who have prolapse are very apprehensive about sex. They don’t feel sexy. They wonder, ‘Is he going to notice? What’s going to happen?’” These are common insecurities expressed by women with this condition.
But, as Dr. Andy explains, “If prolapse is getting in the way of your having sex, then we absolutely need to take care of it.”
The same goes for incontinence, she says. “Some women with incontinence are leaking urine while they’re having sex and they’re absolutely petrified. That’s not what we want.”
This can be a bit subjective, however. “You’ll have a woman who’s changing her pad four times a day who’s not bothered, and a woman who has a panty liner and is losing her mind about it,” she explains.
The decision to seek treatment goes back to the quality of life issue.
5. When you start changing your social lifeAccording to Dr. Andy, “A women who leaks anytime she coughs or laughs is probably not laughing. She’s probably not going out with her friends.”
“One thing that decreases quality of life is that as we get older, we isolate ourselves,” she explains. “The last thing we want is for an older woman not to engage in things because she’s worried about prolapse or incontinence. This should not be a reason for a woman to stay at home.”
This is why treatment is so important.
“If we can treat her condition and she can feel more confident and comfortable when she goes out, then I think that’s a huge success.”