It’s all too easy to feel embarrassed about medical problems. This is especially true for incontinence, or loss of bladder or bowel control. But it shouldn’t be, because incontinence affects millions of women.
“As many as one in four women experience these issues in their lifetime, and one in 20 will have surgery for them,” says Ali Luck, M.D., urogynecological specialist with the Pelvic Health & Continence Center at Henry Ford West Bloomfield Hospital.
The center is among the first in Southeast Michigan to offer treatments from board-certified specialists in urogynecology/female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. At the center, doctors can treat a wide range of pelvic health problems, the most common being incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, and help women return to a full, active lifestyle.
A common problem
Sometimes, incontinence is caused by tumors or a neurological problem such as stroke. But most often it is due to weakening of the muscles below the diaphragm, called the pelvic floor. With this weakening, the pelvic organs — such as the bladder or rectum — may be displaced, leading to what is called pelvic organ prolapse. Symptoms may include pressure or a bulge below the waistline.
Women can develop pelvic floor problems after giving birth or if they have a job that requires heavy lifting. These problems can also arise as women grow older.
Help is available
The care at the center ranges from physical therapy and outpatient procedures to reconstructive surgery. The staff uses the latest techniques, including nerve stimulation therapy that can improve bladder control. Surgeons specializing in pelvic reconstruction can perform state-of-the-art minimally invasive and robotic procedures.
If incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse is an issue, the most important thing to know is that help is available.
“Women can become distraught by incontinence, but they often don’t realize there are treatments,” says Dr. Luck. “We launched this center to raise awareness of these problems, and we want women to know we are here to help.”