Penn Ob/Gyn Care

Urogynecology: Bladder and Pelvic Floor Health

If you think that urinary incontinence and bladder problems only affect elderly women, think again. Bladder and pelvic floor health issues are also common among younger, more active women as well. Nearly 13 million Americans have experienced some form of incontinence, including women in their teens, 20's and 30's.

Because of the embarrassment associated with urinary incontinence and other bladder or pelvic floor disorders, many women suffer in silence. Daily tasks may become more difficult, since coughing, laughing or sneezing may trigger an accident. Fortunately, there are now simple solutions and enhanced treatments available for these disorders.

What are Bladder and Pelvic Floor Disorders?

Bladder and pelvic floor disorders, also known as urogynecologic disorders, include any pain or dysfunction in the area of the uterus, cervix, vagina, bladder or rectum. The primary types of bladder and pelvic floor disorders are:

  • Urinary incontinence – two main types of urinary incontinence are:
    • Stress Incontinence – Tiny leaks that occur when motion stresses the bladder. These motions may include coughing, sneezing or laughing.
    • Urge Incontinence – Also called “overactive bladder,” this is the urgent need to go to the bathroom followed by an involuntary loss of urine.
  • Fecal incontinence – the involuntary loss of solid or liquid stool that can result in impaired quality of life for an individual
  • Pelvic organ prolapse – described as a fallen bladder, uterus, vagina or rectum
  • Fistulas – vesicovaginal or rectovaginal - an opening between the wall of the vagina and the wall of the bladder or rectum which can lead to urine leakage
  • Complex benign conditions of the vagina and urethra such as vaginal cysts, absence of vagina, and urethral diverticulums
  • Other problems with urination or pelvic floor

Who is Affected?

Although urogynecologic problems can affect women of any age, post-menopausal women and women who have given birth are more likely to be experience these problems. Pregnancy and childbirth can damage the tissues supporting the pelvic organs, while bladder support naturally weakens as a women ages. All of these factors can lead to weakened supportive tissue and damage to the nerves that control bladder function.

Learn about Penn's Bladder and Pelvic Floor services