These days it seems like people share everything. Photos of elaborate meals. Blogs highlighting parenting successes (and failures). Videos of pets playing musical instruments.

But it appears sharing has a limit when it comes to certain health issues like incontinence.

More than 30 percent of women nationwide suffer from some form of incontinence or pelvic floor dysfunction. In most cases, these conditions can be easily corrected, but many women are reluctant to reveal they are suffering from the potentially embarrassing symptoms that come with these disorders, such as:

• Frequently feeling the sudden urge to urinate

• Experiencing leakage following a cough or sneeze

• Constipation

• Fecal incontinence

• Pelvic pain

Conditions like incontinence and other bowel and pelvic floor dysfunctions can occur for a number of reasons. For example, urinary incontinence can be the result of irritation in the bladder or even emotional stress. Bowel disorders can be caused by anything from environmental factors to genetics. Pelvic pain can be caused by spasms and tightness in the pelvic floor muscles.

Pregnancy and childbirth can also cause physical changes that strain or weaken the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles, putting more stress on the lower back and resulting in pain and difficulty with daily activities.

While describing some of these symptoms to your gynecologist may be uncomfortable, the good news is that there are many options for treatment depending on the severity of your condition and your comfort level.

Many women can be treated through rehabilitation therapy. Most people think that pelvic rehabilitation is just about doing Kegel exercises, but it’s so much more than that. Through pelvic rehabilitation therapy, a specially trained physical therapist can evaluate you for the specific type of the pelvic floor disorder that you may have, help you to strengthen very weak muscles or treat high tone or spasms in the pelvic floor muscles, and offer a customized exercise prescription.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJ) Hamilton offers a Pelvic Health & Rehabilitation Program for those suffering from bladder, bowel, and pelvic floor conditions. A physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor rehabilitation will work with you to provide a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment in a private supportive environment.

There are also a small percentage of women who may benefit more from medication or surgical correction. Your gynecologist or physical therapist can assist you in making that referral.

While these conditions can be embarrassing for many women to talk about, the important thing to remember is that you are not alone, and that help is available. By taking that first step and having your symptoms evaluated, you can begin treatment and return to your normal quality of life.

More about the RWJ Pelvic Health & Rehabilitation Program. The RWJ Pelvic Health & Rehabilitation Program is housed conveniently in the RWJ Fitness & Wellness Center on Quakerbridge Road in Hamilton. Our providers will work with you and your physician to explain your diagnosis and make the appropriate treatment recommendations for your condition. We appreciate the sensitive nature of your needs and are available to answer any questions you may have while you consider your treatment options. Please call 609-584-6640 to speak to a member of our rehabilitation team.

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