Thursday, July 17, 2014
Sensitive to Women’s Needs
Pelvic health may not be the most comfortable topic to broach with a physician, but women who are experiencing symptoms should know they are not alone. In fact, by the age of 60, about one in three women will have experienced some type of pelvic health issue. “Pelvic floor problems are more common than people realize and can lead to uncomfortable symptoms, from urinary and fecal incontinence to pelvic pain,” explains Joan Blomquist, MD, Division Head of Urogynecology at GBMC and fellowship trained urogynecologist. “Consulting with a doctor can result in an individualized treatment plan to help alleviate symptoms.”
Understanding the Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor supports the urogynecologic tract, which includes the female reproductive organs and bladder, as well as the rectum. These areas can be injured by pregnancy, childbirth or surgeries such as hysterectomy. Muscle and nerve damage or lumbosacral disease can also spur pelvic floor issues. When the pelvic floor is weakened, the muscles and nerves may not work together properly, resulting in leakage, constipation, or the inability to hold the pelvic organs in place.
Offering a Variety of Individualized Treatment Options
GBMC takes a multidisciplinary approach to treating pelvic floor disorders. Its comprehensive services include a team of expert providers including urogynecologists, colorectal surgeons, physical therapists and a gastroenterology (GI) physician. “To include gastroenterology in a collaborative approach to treating pelvic floor disorder patients is unique in the community hospital setting,” explains Kisha Weiser, MD, one of the only GI physicians in Maryland with a special clinical interest in pelvic floor dysfunction. “But, urinary and fecal incontinence often go hand-in-hand because the same nerves control the anal sphincter and neck of the bladder.”
Because the specialists in each discipline collaborate so closely, their patients can seamlessly address all components of their pelvic health issues. In addition, the team offers a wide variety of approaches, from conservative treatments to surgical interventions. Conservative options include dietary changes, physical therapy, medication, botox injections and insertion of pessaries, devices that provide structural support to the pelvic organs. Surgical alternatives include implantation of a neurostimulator, to offer better bladder and bowel control, placement of slings to treat incontinence and pelvic reconstructive surgery to treat prolapse.
An added convenience for GBMC patients is the availability of an on-campus pelvic floor physical therapist at the Greater Baltimore Center for Rehabilitation Medicine. Claudette Cole, PT, DPT, CLT, teaches patients functional movement and body mechanics as well as exercises to do at home to strengthen the pelvic floor and alleviate pain.
"If you're experiencing any symptoms of a pelvic floor disorder, speak with your primary care physician first. He or she will direct you to the appropriate specialist,” explains Dr. Blomquist. “GBMC’s team of experts will work together to develop a treatment plan tailored for your individual goals, needs and comfort level.”
For additional information about GBMC’s services relating to pelvic floor disorders, visit www.gbmc.org/urogyn, www.gbmc.org/colorectal, www.gbmc.org/KrohCenter, www.gbmc.org/rehabmedicine or call 443-849-GBMC (4262).