We often hear from our patients that they put off getting help because they were embarrassed. If you’re hesitant to get help, we understand. Issues like prolapse and incontinence can be difficult to talk about. However, pelvic floor issues are much more common than you think.
More than one-third of U.S. women have pelvic floor disorders, conditions caused by weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles. Our team has helped thousands of women to manage and improve their condition, and we want to help you, too.
At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, we have experts who specialize in pelvic medicine. Our team includes urogynecologists (OB-GYNs who are also board certified in pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery), their physician assistants, and physical therapists who specialize in pelvic floor therapy. Together they can provide comprehensive care that includes surgical and non-surgical treatments for a range of pelvic health conditions. We’ll help you find a tailored treatment plan that meets your unique needs so you can return to the life you love.
Our pelvic health experts use the latest research and technology to treat pelvic floor conditions including:
POP happens when the pelvic organs – including the bladder, uterus or rectum – drop down from where they should be. This can happen when childbirth makes pelvic floor muscles weak or damaged. You might be able to see or feel a bulge, or you might experience other symptoms like pressure or fullness.
There are different types of bladder control issues. Incontinence (leaking urine) is the most common. You might find coughing, laughing or sneezing seems to put pressure on your pelvic floor muscles and causes leakage. Or maybe you experience a strong urge at any time of day or night, and struggle to get to the bathroom on time. Sometimes women find they’re just going a lot more often and wonder if that’s normal.
Treatment varies by type and frequency. Bladder control issues that don’t respond to common treatments may need more specialized care, and in some cases, surgery will provide the best outcome. We have the expertise to treat all types of bladder control issues and other concerns, like painful bladder syndrome.
Painful Bladder Syndrome (also called interstitial cystitis) is a chronic condition with symptoms such as frequent urination, urgency and bladder discomfort. Discomfort can be mild or quite painful for some women.
Chronic UTIs happen when bacteria enter the urinary tract and cause swelling. Recurrent infections are those that do not respond to antibiotics or keep coming back. If you have two UTIs in a six-month period or three UTIs in a year, your condition is considered recurrent.
Also called fecal incontinence, this condition causes you to lose control of bowel movements. It’s more common in women and older adults. Episodes of bowel incontinence might happen as frequently as every day or as infrequently as every month.
There are many types of urogynecologic and pelvic floor conditions. Because of this, there are a variety of symptoms you might experience. Some of the most common symptoms to watch for are:
- A bulge or protrusion around your vagina
- Pressure or heaviness in your vagina
- Leakage of stool or urine
- Sudden urgency to urinate or defecate and loss of control
We use a variety of methods to diagnose women with pelvic floor disorders. During your first visit, we’ll ask questions about your symptoms and health history, and do a physical exam. If we need more information to diagnose your condition, we might perform one of these additional tests:
This is a simple urine test where we collect a urine sample and analyze it in a lab. We’ll check a sample of your urine for things like infection or blood. It’s most often used to help diagnose bladder infections.
Urodynamic testing may involve a few different tests based on symptoms, that look at how your body stores and releases urine. The tests help determine how well your bladder and sphincter muscles work to empty your bladder.
This test involves the use of a cystoscope, a thin instrument with lens that allows your doctor to see inside of your bladder and urethra. A cystoscopy can help identify the cause of different symptoms related to a urinary problem.
After a diagnosis, we’ll partner with you to find the best treatment options. Some of the most common treatments we prescribe are:
Strengthening the muscles that support your pelvic floor can help manage many pelvic floor conditions. Treatment might include an advanced sports massage technique called “soft tissue release” or exercises to help loosen the muscles. We may suggest small lifestyle changes like improving your posture and changing your exercise routine to help limit pain.
Pelvic floor therapy may also include relaxation techniques. These pelvic floor relaxation techniques can help improve muscle spasms and pelvic pain. Examples of relaxation techniques include:
- Lying down in a peaceful place
- Putting a warm pack on the painful places
- Practicing yoga breathing
- Visualizing your pelvic floor muscles relaxing
Bladder medication can help with certain pelvic floor dysfunctions like overactive bladder. We’ll work with you to make sure that any medicine prescribed is a good fit for your health needs.
A pessary is a soft, removable device that is inserted into the vagina to help support the pelvic organs and hold them in place. It can be used to treat stress urinary incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse.
Botox is a muscle relaxant that can be injected into the bladder muscles to help the bladder hold more urine. This can help reduce urinary urgency and frequency. Botox also relaxes the bladder’s muscular wall to stop unexpected urine leakage.
InterStim is an implantable device used to treat patients with overactive bladder. Similar to Botox, it can help to reduce urinary frequency and urgency and minimize incontinence.
If conditions don’t improve with treatments such as pelvic floor therapy or a pessary, we may recommend surgery. Many women who are experiencing stress incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse find the needed help through surgery.
At HealthPartners and Park Nicollet, our urogynecologists use a variety of minimally invasive surgical methods, including da Vinci surgery, to help you find relief. We’ll talk to you about your different treatment options and guide you toward surgery if it’s the best treatment option.
You can schedule a consult with a urogynecologist without a referral, but will need a referral for pelvic physical therapy.
If you haven’t talked with a doctor about your concerns before, it might be a good idea to talk with your primary care doctor or OB-GYN first. Both doctors can treat common concerns, like an occasional UTI. If your doctor feels a referral is needed, they can help you with that.
We accept most health insurance plans, including Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota, CIGNA, HealthPartners, Medica, Medicare, PreferredOne and many others.
Not sure what your insurance covers? Call the number on the back of your card for help looking at your options.
Don’t have your card in front of you? Here are the member services numbers to help you get started:
- HealthPartners: 800-883-2177
- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota: 800-382-2000
- CIGNA: 800-244-6224 (insurance through work); 866-494-2111 (insurance directly or through the Exchange)
- Medica: 800-952-3455
- Medicare: 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227)
- PreferredOne: 763-847-4477 (in the Twin Cities); 800-997-1750 (outside the metro area)
- United Healthcare: 877-842-3210