Being one of the most common problems facing women, pelvic floor dysfunction, may affect approximately 50 percent of all women - the majority of whom may not seek professional help. In addition to urinary incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction may cause fecal incontinence, sexual dysfunction, vaginal pain or discomfort and abdominal discomfort. Many women experience significant changes in daily activities and even self-identify because of these conditions. Abnormal function results from a variety of medical conditions as well as normal changes associated with childbirth and aging. FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) >
Women with pelvic floor disorders - the most common of which is urinary incontinence followed by fecal incontinence and organ prolapse - often fail to receive appropriate treatment for their condition. As a result, they frequently give up participating in favorite activities, exercise and travel. Self-esteem and intimacy suffer, and many lapse into depression or are reluctant to leave their homes. With women living longer beyond menopause than ever before, pelvic floor disorders demand serious attention from healthcare providers. UCLA offers comprehensive and compassionate care for all pelvic floor disorders in a women-only setting.
Our program draws on the expertise of specialists in urogynecology, chronic pelvic pain, colorectal and digestive diseases and physical therapy. This collaboration of physicians from various specialties is important because pelvic floor dysfunctions often have a shared pathophysiology. A single structural defect in the pelvic floor, for example, can be responsible for dysfunction of the bladder, bowel and even genital tract. Moreover, the multidisciplinary arrangement eliminates the inconvenience and emotional stress of seeking out physicians in multiple locations.
As specialists with long experience in the diagnosis and treatment of pelvic floor disorders, UCLA physicians handle complex and recurrent cases. The program also offers general gynecologic care and other women's medical services, such as bone-density scanning and hormone therapy.
Age and obesity are common risk factors for all three pelvic floor disorders, while childbirth is a factor in urinary incontinence and organ prolapse. Other risk factors for urinary incontinence include hysterectomy, vaginal surgery, lung disease, smoking and radiation.
UCLA takes advantage of the most up-to-date diagnostic services and tools, among them pelvic ultrasound, genitourinary radiology, cystoscopy for examination of the bladder and urethra, and anal ultrasound to assess sphincter injury. When more sophisticated testing is required, physicians use multi-channel urodynamics to measure bladder function, dynamic magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the evaluation of the urogenital compartment and pelvic floor organs, and anorectal manometry for the diagnosis of fecal incontinence.
Our program focuses on education as a powerful tool to empower women to gain control over their bladders. Many women find they can obtain a measure of relief by decreasing or eliminating certain beverages or foods from their diets. Home biofeedback and exercise can often bring relief by strengthening pelvic floor and anal muscles. For prolapse and incontinence cases requiring surgery, program physicians use the latest minimally invasive procedures. UCLA surgeons can perform robotically assisted laparoscopy for prolapse repair. This technique shortens hospitalization and recovery time and may add to the durability and efficacy of the repair. Uterine-sparing surgery is often possible.
*Adapted from Voices for PFD website