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One in five women have pelvic floor damage – research

At least 20% of all women experience some sort of pelvic floor disorder, with this figure rising to 50% in those who have had more than one child, studies show.

Many women in developing countries do not disclose this condition due to stigma or lack of health services, while research shows pelvic floor disorders impact negatively on women’s self-esteem, relationships with their partners and their ability to work.

A study in Ethiopia and research in the US found that at least one in five women suffer from pelvic floor disorder. In Australia, it’s estimated that at least half of women who have had more than one child have some degree of pelvic organ prolapse (pelvic organs slipping from the normal position).

Local trends

SA trends are believed to be similar to those recorded internationally, said urologist Dr Preena Sivsankar from The Urology Hospital, Pretoria, adding that the condition can often be effectively treated.

She said pelvic floor disorders are caused by damage to pelvic muscles either during childbirth, through heavy lifting, from obesity or after a hysterectomy. The pelvic floor refers to the muscles around the bowel, bladder and uterus in women and the bowel and bladder in men.

Symptoms

Pelvic floor dysfunction varies in severity and symptoms include:

  • Pain during sex

  • Pain in the pelvic area

  • Leaking of urine or faeces

  • Difficulty emptying the bladder or bowel

  • A dragging sensation or “bulge” in the rectum or vagina

The Urology Hospital has a dedicated Pelvic Wellness Clinic where specialists in urology, urogynaecology and colorectal surgery diagnose and treat pelvic floor disorders through a host of surgical and non-surgical options.

Author: Pedro van Gaalen

When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.

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