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Aging Gracefully: Pelvic Floor Disorder
The good news about urogynecological issues in women 50 and older is that most are very treatable, says Amy Park, MD.
“So many women feel uncomfortable discussing common issues, such as leaking urine and vaginal bulge, where the vagina can prolapse, which can result from aging and damage from childbirth injury,” she says. “But often, we can help them dramatically improve their quality of life. Treatment of the incontinence and prolapse enables them to regain their confidence, engage in social activities and exercise comfortably again.”
Options for treating common conditions include making dietary changes, such as reducing caffeine intake (excessive caffeine can be a bladder irritant), using low-dose estrogen creams for vaginal dryness and considering minimally invasive surgical procedures to correct stress urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
Maintaining core strength is another important factor in urogynecological health, so Dr. Park recommends exercises like yoga, pilates or planks, which target the core muscles. But, she says, perhaps the most vital part of being active and healthy in the middle years is accepting where you are.
“You can’t compete against the idea of your younger self,” she explains. “I believe in the importance of optimizing who we are and what we want to do, whatever age we happen to be.”