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Pelvic Health Conditions and You

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Four of the most common pelvic health conditions women experience are menorrhagia, or heavy bleeding during menstruation defined as soaking a pad and/or tampon every hour or less; fibroids; non-cancerous tumors of the uterus; stress urinary incontinence, in which urine escapes when you sneeze, laugh, cough or engage in strenuous physical activity; and pelvic organ prolapse (POP), in which one or more pelvic organs—primarily the uterus, urethra, bladder, bowel or vagina—descend into or out of the vaginal opening.

All have significant effects on a woman's quality of life. For instance, women with menorrhagia may be reluctant to leave their homes, fatigued from blood loss and in pain from the heavy cramps that usually accompany the bleeding. Fibroids are often an underlying cause of heavy bleeding, pelvic pain and severe cramps.

Stress urinary incontinence can have devastating psychological, social, emotional and even financial consequences as women close themselves off from activities they enjoy; limit their careers or quit their jobs; shun friends and family; and live in shame and fear of "having an accident."

Meanwhile, women with POP often have urinary or fecal incontinence, pain going to the bathroom and sexual problems, including difficulty reaching orgasm, lower libido and discomfort with intercourse. Women also tell researchers that they feel less attractive and less feminine, avoid people because of their appearance and say they don't like the way their bodies look.

If you're experiencing any symptoms associated with these common pelvic health conditions, it's time to call your health care professional for an appointment. Together, the two of you can determine which lifestyle change treatment option will best resolve your condition so you can return to the active, healthy life you deserve.