The team at Sunflower Pelvic Health is here for you
When your arm is hurt or broken, the first thing you may do is call your doctor to see what could be wrong. So why don’t we do this when it comes to our pelvic health? Kathy Ramirez, an APRN with Lawrence Urology Specialists, said that if something is not right or doesn’t feel the way you think it should, call your provider and tell them.
“Don’t be ashamed about your symptoms,” Ramirez said. “You did not do anything wrong. This is a common health issue that many women and men can have.”
So what exactly is pelvic health? Ramirez said that for women, pelvic health is the function, or dysfunction, of all of the organs contained in the pelvis - more specifically, the bladder, vagina, uterus, cervix and rectum.
Sunflower Pelvic Health
The team at Sunflower Pelvic Health is here and ready to serve you at our new LMH Health West Campus. Sunflower Pelvic Health was developed as a collaborative space that encourages real-time communication between providers in different specialties to address your health needs – often in only one appointment. Located in our Women’s Center, this integrated care provides you with a team of experts focused on your health and wellbeing goals. Are you ready to schedule an appointment or want to learn more about our provider and services? Visit our website today at www.lmh.org or give us a call at 785-505-3800. Our team can’t wait to talk to you!
“Pelvic health issues can certainly occur at any point in your life and can usually be well managed,” she said. “That being said, many women do not have issues prior to childbirth.”
Signs and symptoms
Pelvic floor disorders, such as bladder leaks, sudden urges and pain can cause keep you from enjoying your daily life. Common pelvic health concerns include:
- Bladder pain syndrome
- Incontinence when coughing, laughing or sneezing
- Pelvic pain during intercourse
- Pelvic prolapse – relaxation of the pelvic organs through the vagina
- Urge to use the restroom but can’t make it without leaking urine
Many women think incontinence is just a normal part of aging. Because of this, they hardly ever inform their providers of these issues. Though incontinence may be common, it does not mean you have to live with the discomfort.
Ramirez said it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider if you are ever experiencing new or bothersome symptoms.
“Don’t wait until you have to go to the emergency room for care,” she said. “Many problems can be managed and easily treated when they first become noticeable.”
One misconception is that to fix a pelvic floor problem, you have to get surgery. Ramirez said pelvic floor disorders may be managed in multiple ways including, but not limited to physical therapy, medication or surgical correction.
Lauren Woodward, a physical therapist with Sunflower Pelvic Health, said pelvic health therapy can be a great conservative option for problems like pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence and more.
“Though we only treat women at Sunflower Pelvic Health, pelvic health therapy can be a great option for men and women in helping with pelvic health problems,” she said. “When talking about pelvic health therapy, we want to focus on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, lengthening the muscles for the tension that could have been built up and then learning how we can use those muscles more functionally.”
Kathy Ramirez, APRN
If you have been struggling and would like to see the Sunflower team, Woodward said the first step is to contact your primary care provider and express your concerns. They will be able to refer you out and get you scheduled for an appointment with the team.
“Kathy and I work very collaboratively together to assess our patients and create the plan that’s the best fit for them,” Woodward said. “We provide individualized care and make sure we walk alongside our patients. If the best first step is therapy, you will work with me for a few weeks. If that isn’t helping you improve, then we discuss more treatment options that could be best to help you reach your health goals.”
Woodward shared that pelvic health therapy does not just mean doing Kegel exercises.
“We will have patients come in and say ‘well doing Kegels didn’t work so you probably can’t help me’,” she said. “Therapy is so much more than just doing Kegels, it really is about a whole body approach. Even if Kegels are a part of your treatment plan, you may not have been doing them 100% correctly. Though it can be written off quickly, our team is here to make sure you are correctly working toward your goals.”
Surgery is in the cards
If surgery is the route that is best for your condition, there is not just a one-size-fits-all procedure.
“There are multiple surgeries available at LMH Health to address a variety of pelvic health problems,” Ramirez said. “This is something that is very important to discuss with your trusted provider. They will talk with you about your options and what procedure is best for your needs.”
When many people think of surgery they think of long periods of down time and recovery. Ramirez said there is no definitive answer to how long your downtime will be post-surgery but depending on the procedure, recovery can be anywhere from 24 hours to six weeks.
“Having a procedure does not always mean you will be out of commission for a long period of time,” she said. “Again, procedures vary depending on your needs, but we utilize the da Vinci Surgical System for many of our procedures.”
LMH Health is home to the da Vinci Xi, the most advanced da Vinci Surgical System to date. Our team uses this robotic technology to perform minimally invasive surgery. This leads to:
- Shorter recovery times with less post-operative discomfort
- Reduced blood loss during surgery and minimal post-operative scarring
- Faster return to work and regular activities
Men live with pelvic health issues too
We often talk about pelvic health for women, but men can also suffer from pelvic health problems like incontinence, weakened muscles, constipation and abdominal pain, just to name a few. Ramirez said though the issues they are different in nature, her advice still applies. If you have new or painful symptoms, you absolutely should contact your urologist or primary healthcare provider.
“Your health is important to us and we want you to take care of yourself,” she said. “Do not wait until your only option is a trip to the emergency department to finally seek care. Stay healthy and know that we are here for you.”