Study doubles women’s risk for pelvic surgeries

Local physician urges women to seek out treatment options.

A women’s risk for needing surgery related to two gynecological conditions has doubled in the past 20 years, according to newly published research.

Up to 65 percent of women nationally suffer from some form of incontinence, overactive bladder, or pelvic organ prolapse, with problems increasing from age and multiple births, according to local urogynecologist Dr. Catrina Crisp.

Stress urinary incontinence is the involuntary leakage of urine during activities such as coughing, sneezing and physical activity.

Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition that occurs when the tissue and muscles holding pelvic organs (uterus, vagina, bladder) in place weakens and causes one or more pelvic organs to fall out of the vagina.

Women have a 20 percent lifetime risk of needing surgery to treat pelvic organ prolapse or stress urinary incontinence, according to the findings of Dr. Jennifer Wu, of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, published in June in Obstetrics and Gynecology magazine.

Previous studies from two decades ago put a woman’s risk at 11 percent, and were based on limited pool of 384 patients in one geographic area.

Crisp said despite pelvic floor disorders being common, the average American woman waits seven years before seeking medical treatment. Crisp cites fear, embarrassment and a lack of awareness as reasons a woman doesn’t seek treatment.

“Most women wait until they’re really just fed up; they’ve dealt with it for years,” Crisp said. “Women are very strong and tend to take care of everyone else in their families first.”

Cynthia Schneeman, 58, of West Chester Twp., said after living with pelvic organ prolapse for several years, she had surgery last December to treat the condition.

Schneeman said her regular gynecologist referred her to Dr. Crisp following a yearly check-up in which “my bladder was coming out and I found out it was my uterus as well.”

Schneeman said she lived three years with the condition before seeking treatment.

“To begin with it didn’t bother me but as time went on it felt like I needed to urinate all the time,” Schneeman said. “It wasn’t uncomfortable; I just had to run to the bathroom.”

After surgery, Schneeman said she had some difficulty controlling her bladder but it has improved. Schneeman said she’s talked with several friends that dealt with the same condition.

“I would say not to put it off,” Schneeman said. “Different people react differently to things; don’t put it off.”

Crisp said she and her two partners see about 40-50 new patients each week. She said there are both surgical and non-surgical options for treating these gynecological issues.

“Women … should have the opportunity and ability to live our lives to the absolute fullest,” Crisp said. “You don’t have to deal with it. You can live a normal life without the bother of these two things. We as women deserve to live high-quality, high-functioning lives.”

Crisp practices at Cincinnati Urogynecology Associates, a TriHealth partner, along with Drs. Rachel N. Pauls and Steven D. Kleeman. The office has practices in West Chester Twp., Lebanon, Blue Ash and Cincinnati.

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