3 ques­tions women should ask their doc­tor

Record Observer - - Senior Satelite - By BRIANA WAL­TON

Many women are of­ten ner­vous or even em­bar­rassed to ask their doc­tor about per­sonal health is­sues they start ex­pe­ri­enc­ing as they get older, specif­i­cally when it comes to their pelvic health. Pelvic health dis­or­ders can be un­com­fort­able and con­fus­ing. As a urog­y­ne­col­o­gist, I see women who have been deal­ing with symp­toms on their own for far too long. Once we de­cide on the best treat­ment for them, they of­ten wish they hadn’t waited to ask for help. Here are three ques­tions you shouldn’t be em­bar­rassed to ask. In fact, ask­ing them is the first step in pre­vent­ing more se­vere prob­lems and get­ting back to liv­ing your life with con­fi­dence. 1. Is ‘leak­age’ nor­mal? If you’re run­ning to the bath­room mul­ti­ple times a day or leak­ing when you ex­er­cise, you’re not alone. About 18 mil­lion Amer­i­can women suf­fer from uri­nary in­con­ti­nence, which is when urine leaks un­in­ten­tion­ally. There are many causes, in­clud­ing some med­i­cal con­di­tions, med­i­ca­tions, or age-re­lated changes. In­con­ti­nence is com­mon and many women think it’s just some­thing they have to live with. That’s not true. Your doc­tor can of­fer a va­ri­ety of so­lu­tions, such as chang­ing cer­tain habits, pelvic floor ther­apy, med­i­ca­tion or min­i­mally-in­va­sive surgery.

2. I’m ex­pe­ri­enc­ing pelvic pain/pres­sure. What can I do about it?

Pelvic pain can vary from wo­man to wo­man and range from mild to se­vere. Some women may even feel it in their ab­domen, lower back and hips. The causes of this pain can be due to hor­monal changes or in­fec­tion. If you’re feel­ing pelvic pres­sure and it’s worse when you’re stand­ing, jump­ing or lift­ing but feels bet­ter when you’re ly­ing down, you may be deal­ing with pelvic or­gan pro­lapse. Pelvic or­gan pro­lapse is the drop­ping of the pelvic or­gans caused by loss of sup­port in the vag­ina.

Sim­i­lar to other pelvic health dis­or­ders, there are a va­ri­ety of treat­ments for pelvic pain or pelvic or­gan pro­lapse. No mat­ter what stage of your life you’re in, pelvic floor dis­or­ders are not a nor­mal part of aging that you have to live with. They are med­i­cal con­di­tions and they are treat­able.

3. Why does sex hurt some­times?

You can have a healthy, en­joy­able sex life at any age. But like in­con­ti­nence, pain dur­ing sex is a com­mon is­sue. Af­ter menopause many women ex­pe­ri­ence pain and dry­ness dur­ing sex. Your doc­tor can help iden­tify or rule out any un­der­ly­ing prob­lem as the cause of your dis­com­fort. You should feel com­fort­able ask­ing about symp­toms re­lated to your in­ti­mate health. Your doc­tor can pre­scribe or rec­om­mend a va­ri­ety of so­lu­tions to help, such a pre­scrip­tion creams or ther­apy. Sex should never hurt.

By dis­cussing your symp­toms, your doc­tor will be able to cor­rectly di­ag­nose and treat the prob­lem, help­ing you re­gain your con­fi­dence and qual­ity of life.

Briana Wal­ton, MD, is direc­tor of Female Pelvic Medicine and Re­con­struc­tive Surgery at Anne Arun­del Med­i­cal Cen­ter and urog­y­ne­col­o­gist with AAMC Women’s Cen­ter for Pelvic Health. Wal­ton sees pa­tients in Eas­ton at 505 Dutch­mans Lane. To sched­ule an ap­point­ment call 443-4811199.

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