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It's vital to address myths and misconceptions about female bladder leakage to ensure that women feel comfortable seeking help and can make informed decisions about their health.
Myth: Bladder leakage only affects older women.
Fact: While it's true that bladder leakage is more common as women age, it can affect women of all ages. Pregnancy, childbirth, and obesity can contribute to bladder leakage, even in younger women.
Myth: Bladder leakage is a normal part of aging and cannot be treated.
Fact: Although bladder leakage is more common as women age, it is not an inevitable part of aging. Many treatment options are available to help manage or even cure bladder leakage, ranging from lifestyle changes and pelvic floor exercises to medications and surgical interventions.
Myth: Only a small number of women experience bladder leakage.
Fact: Bladder leakage is quite common. According to the National Association for Continence, approximately 25 million adult Americans experience some form of urinary incontinence, with 75-80% being women. It is estimated that one in three women will experience bladder leakage at some point in their lives.
Myth: Bladder leakage is not a serious medical issue.
Fact: While bladder leakage itself may not be life-threatening, it can significantly impact a woman's quality of life, leading to social isolation, embarrassment, and depression. Additionally, untreated bladder leakage can potentially worsen over time or lead to other health issues, such as urinary tract infections.
Myth: Constipation is not related to pelvic floor dysfunction.
Fact: Over 40% of patients who experience constipation have underlying pelvic floor dysfunction called dyssynergia, which is an incoordination of the muscles involved in defecation. This leads to difficulty with bowel movements and straining with evacuation. Dedicated testing is available, as well as pelvic floor therapy to retrain your muscles to coordinate for complete evacuation.
Myth: Fecal incontinence is an unavoidable part of aging.
Fact: Fecal incontinence affects up to 10% of women over the age of 60 years and is NOT, in Fact, unavoidable. Many risk Factors can contribute to fecal incontinence, including prior vaginal delivery, episiotomy or tear with delivery, multiple pregnancies, and other pelvic surgeries like hysterectomy or hemorrhoid procedures. Diagnosing the underlying cause of the incontinence can lead to directed management and treatment to improve quality of life and decrease or completely resolve episodes.
Myth: Pelvic floor therapy is the only management for fecal incontinence.
Fact: Everyone with fecal incontinence can benefit from pelvic floor therapy, but other causes, like pelvic organ prolapse, can complicate the picture. You may benefit from a multimodal approach, including surgical intervention or even a sacral nerve stimulator. A team approach can often lead to the best outcomes.
Myth: Pelvic organ prolapse always causes pelvic pain.
Fact: While pelvic organ prolapse can cause discomfort and a feeling of pressure in the pelvic region, it does not always cause pain. Many women with pelvic organ prolapse have no symptoms at all, or they may experience other symptoms like urinary or bowel problems, sexual dysfunction, or a sensation of bulging or fullness in the vagina. If you do experience pelvic pain, it's important to talk to a healthcare provider, as this could indicate other conditions.
Myth: Surgery is the only way to treat bladder leakage related to pelvic organ prolapse.
Fact: There are many treatment options for both pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence. These can include lifestyle changes (such as weight management and avoiding heavy lifting), pelvic floor exercises, bladder training, medications, and the use of pessaries (devices inserted into the vagina to support the pelvic organs). However, in some cases, surgery may still be the best option.