Are you embarrassed or uncomfortable due to bladder control problems or a bulge in the vaginal area? These and other incontinence or pelvic floor conditions can greatly affect your quality of life.

At the University of Missouri Women’s Health Center, we provide complete care for women who suffer from a multitude of pelvic floor disorders. MU Health Care's Therapy Services team offers a variety of nonsurgical treatments for pelvic pain.

Whatever your specific needs, you can be assured that you will be treated with respect and compassion. Many women may be uncomfortable discussing their bladder or bowel control problems with their doctor. Know that pelvic floor disorders are very common, treatable conditions.

Pelvic organ prolapse

Our MU Health Care team of experts has years of experience treating conditions related to the pelvic floor. One of the most common conditions affecting this area of the female body is pelvic organ prolapse. Over time, the effects of childbirth, straining, genetics and other health issues contribute to the development of bulges in the vagina, called prolapse.

This condition is fairly common. In fact, nearly half of all women between the ages of 50 and 79 have some form of prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the normal support of the vagina is lost, resulting in sagging or dropping of the bladder, urethra, cervix and/or rectum. The bulging also commonly gives women the sensation of pressure or fullness in the pelvis and may also cause lower back discomfort and painful intercourse.

Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse

Symptoms that may be disrupting your life include:

  • Tissue protruding outside the vagina
  • A sensation that something is bulging or falling out of the vagina
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Difficult bowel movements, constipation or liquid stools
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Lower backache
  • Painful intercourse
  • Urine leakage or frequency

If you have pelvic organ prolapse, you may experience all, some, or none of these symptoms. Each woman’s experience depends on the type of prolapse and the severity of the symptoms.

Diagnosing pelvic organ prolapse

Our team provides a personalized evaluation of your condition by analyzing your complete health history and conducting a pelvic exam.

Your pelvic floor disorder is unique. Many times these disorders occur with another problem that demands advanced diagnostic techniques to determine the cause. Our experienced team of health care professionals and leading-edge technology provides the most accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of your condition. Using diagnostic test results, we work with you to determine the best course of care.

Urodynamics

Urodynamic tests range from simple observation to precise measurements using sophisticated instruments. Urodynamic testing is a series of bladder tests that help your doctor determine:

  • How your lower urinary tract reacts under certain conditions
  • If you have problems with loss of urine
  • What type of incontinence you may have

Cystoscopy

Cystoscopy is a diagnostic procedure that uses a thin tube with a camera and light on the end. It examines the bladder and urethra. Cystoscopy helps in identifying problems with the urinary tract such as early signs of cancer, infection, strictures (narrowing), obstruction and bleeding.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound imaging is a method of taking images inside the body using high-frequency sound waves. A technician places a probe that emits sound waves on the skin of the abdomen or within the vagina or rectum to obtain images of the pelvis. Ultrasound is a useful way of examining many of the body’s internal organs such as the bladder, bowel and uterus.

Treatments for pelvic organ prolapse 

  • Pessaries. A pessary is a small device made of soft rubberized plastic or silicone that is placed inside the vagina to hold the uterus or the walls of the vagina up and inside your body. These are especially useful for women who leak urine during specific activities such as exercise. Several types and sizes of pessaries are available. Our specialists are experienced at identifying the right size and shape for your body, which helps make the device effective, comfortable and manageable.
  • Pelvic floor muscle training (Kegels). There are muscles around the vagina that help with pelvic support. You can train and exercise these muscles to improve the support of your pelvic floor. These exercises are generally more helpful if you have a smaller prolapse.
  • Surgery. Our team offers many different types of surgery to correct pelvic organ prolapse, including minimally invasive surgery. Most surgeries for prolapse involve an overnight hospital stay. Most women will return to their full activities within six weeks of surgery. Surgery performed for prolapse is safe and effective. You may work with your provider to determine if surgery is the right treatment choice for you.

Incontinence

Female incontinence may cause embarrassment, loss of self-esteem, social isolation and depression. Incontinence often affects a women’s ability to live her life the way she wishes. The good news is there are excellent treatments for incontinence. At MU Health Care, we have a comprehensive approach to treating this condition.

Symptoms of incontinence

  • Stress incontinence. This occurs when a woman accidentally loses urine when she coughs, sneezes, laughs or exercises.
  • Urge incontinence. This happens when a woman accidentally loses urine when she cannot make it to the bathroom in time or she has the urge to urinate very frequently.

Diagnosing incontinence

Our team provides a personalized evaluation of your condition by analyzing your complete health history and conducting a pelvic exam.

Many times incontinence occurs with some other problem that demands advanced diagnostic techniques to determine the cause. Our experienced team of health care professionals and leading-edge technology provides the most accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of your condition. Using diagnostic tests, we’ll work with you to determine the best course of treatment.

Urodynamics

Urodynamic testing is a series of bladder tests performed to see how your lower urinary tract reacts under certain conditions. This test is usually done to see if you have problems with loss of urine or determine what type of incontinence you may have.

Urinalysis

Your doctor will recommend this test to determine if you have an infection or other substances in your urine. It’s usually performed at the beginning of any type of bladder test.

Bladder diary

An important tool in guiding treatment for urine loss is to keep a three-day record of your bladder function. You’ll measure the volume of urine you void. You’ll also keep track of your beverage history — what type (coffee, water, soda, tea, etc.), when and how much.

Treatments for incontinence 

  • Pelvic floor muscle training (Kegels). There are muscles around the vagina that help with pelvic support. With training and exercise, these muscles improve the support of your pelvic floor.
  • Pessaries. A pessary is a device that is placed into the vagina to support the uterus or bladder and rectum. It is a firm ring that presses against the wall of the vagina and urethra to help decrease urine leakage. Our specialists are experienced at identifying the right size and shape for your body to ensure the pessary is effective, comfortable and manageable.

Additional treatments may include:

  • Moderating fluid intake
  • Bladder training
  • Medications
  • Surgery

Your first visit

Here are some things to know about your first visit:

  • Parking is free and near the entrance to the clinic building.
  • Your first visit may take more than one hour. Your physician will spend a significant amount of time with you at this visit.
  • If you bring your completed forms with you, please arrive 15 minutes before your appointment time. If you plan to complete the forms at our clinic, please arrive 45 minutes early.
  • Please bring your health insurance card with you. We accept most insurance plans; if you’d like to confirm that we accept your plan, please call at 573-817-3165. You are responsible for your co-payment at the time of your visit. Payment may be made with cash, check, Visa or MasterCard.
  • Please dress appropriately for your clinic visit as you will be asked to undress from the waist down before your evaluation. You will be provided a comfortable cloth wrap to wear and your examination will be performed with the highest degree of professionalism.

If you are unable to make it to your scheduled appointment, please contact us at 573-817-3165 at least 24 business hours before your appointment to reschedule.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions. We pride ourselves in being knowledgeable and attentive to your needs.

Additional resources

Check out these trusted web resources for more information on pelvic floor disorder and other conditions.