About One Quarter of U.S. Women are Affected by Pelvic Floor Disorders
Nearly 24 percent of U.S. women are affected with one or more
pelvic floor disorders according to a National Institutes of
Akinso: Nearly 24 percent of U.S. women are affected with one or more pelvic floor disorders according to a National Institutes of Health study. Dr. Susan Meikle is the Project Scientist for the NIH Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.
Meikle: Pelvic floor disorders are a group of disorders that have to do with the supporting muscle and tissue of the pelvis.
Akinso: Dr. Meikle explains that these muscles and ligaments form a sling across the opening of a woman's pelvis, holding the bladder, uterus, bowel, and rectum in place.
Meikle: So when there is a weakness or a tear—say from a vaginal delivery, a birth — the bladder can kind of actually fall down, the uterus can fall down, intestines can fall down through different kinds of spaces between the muscles and the thick connective tissue.
Akinso: Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Office of Research on Women's Health, researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Dr. Meikle explains what the survey shows.
Meikle: The results were that it is quite common for women in the United States to have symptoms of at least one pelvic floor disorder. Overall almost 24 percent of women had symptoms of at least one pelvic floor disorder. And the most common was urinary incontinence, followed by fecal incontinence, and then the least common was the systematic pelvic organ prolapse, which is feeling the organs in a place that there not suppose to be.
Akinso: Dr. Meikle highlights the importance of the findings.
Meikle: What it underscores is that this is a big public health problem. It really lays the groundwork for trying to do more research on prevention, because it is actually common.Akinso: Treatment for pelvic floor disorders varies with the severity of symptoms. Dr. Meikle says treatment may involve behavioral therapies, exercises to strengthen muscles, vaginal devices to hold up the bladder or other pelvic organs, medications or surgery. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.