1 in 4 women suffer from pelvic floor disorders, many go undiagnosed
Doctors estimate one in four women suffer from what many describe as a debilitating condition -- injuries to the floor of their pelvis. And some women may not realize what they're living with is treatable.
She starts her day with intervals on the Stair Master to get her heart rate up. But a year ago, daily exercise wasn't even possible for Laura Dorn.
"It was really putting a damper on my activities," Laura explained. It turned out she was living with stress incontinence, meaning she couldn't control her bladder.
"You just sneeze, cough. Don't think about it, think it's part of the aging," Laura recalled. "I think that the companies that produce all the products have been making it easier and easier for you to live with it."
She's not alone. Up to 1 in 4 women are living with what's known as a pelvic floor disorder. Dr. Rebecca Batalden at The Oregon Clinic says many women she treats have something called "prolapse."
"When the pelvic organs, the uterus, the bladder or the rectum fall down into the vaginal space," Dr. Batalden explained. "There's a sensation that everything is falling or about to fall out of you all the time, and it's hard to go about your day to day life when you're thinking, 'Am I okay?'"
Pelvic floor injuries are most common in women ages 40 to 60, and many of those women have had children. Dr. Batalden is a Urogynecologist, which is a newer specialty.
"There are tons of women who are living with pelvic floor disorders who either don't know there's treatment, sadly have been told there's nothing to do, or only have been told there's surgical options," Dr. Batalden said.
For some women, specific exercises can do the trick. Dorn needed minor surgery.
"I'm one year post-op and it's just changed my life," Laura said, adding that she is sharing her story in hopes other women get the help they need. "I really think that they're modifying their life over something that you can have fixed. I just didn't want to grow old thinking I had to wear something all the time to protect myself."
It's a fix that's changed Dorn's world - from her career as a realtor to enjoying a good workout to start each day.
If your primary care physician cannot refer you to a specialist, Dr. Batalden recommends you call a Urogynecologist to get the help you need.