Jefferson University Hospitals

Obstetrics & Gynecology

Frequently Asked Questions

Our Jefferson Health Comprehensive Urogynecology & Female Pelvic Medicine team is here to answer all of your questions, starting with the frequently asked questions below.

What is the Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor consists of the muscles and tissues that support the pelvic organs, which are supported like a hammock. The pelvic organs include the bladder, uterus and cervix, vagina and rectum.

What is a Pelvic Floor Disorder?

Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFDs) can happen when people have weakened pelvic nerves or muscles, or stretches or tears in the pelvic floor connective tissue. Such stretches or tears may cause bladder and bowel control problems or pelvic organ prolapse. The most common PFDs are urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

How common are PFDs?

Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFDs) may affect more than a third of all women in their lifetime. However, many are reluctant to seek care for PFDs if they are embarrassed about their symptoms or think their symptoms are normal. If you are experiencing any symptoms of pelvic floor disorders, please do not hesitate to contact our experts at Jefferson Health’s Comprehensive Urogynecology & Female Pelvic Medicine at 215-955-5000.

What are the symptoms of PFDs?

The symptoms of PFDs can vary, begin gradually, and progress with time. Some symptoms include:

  • A frequent need to urinate
  • Ongoing urinary leakage when coughing, sneezing or laughing
  • Painful urination
  • Feeling of pelvic heaviness, fullness or a bulge in the vagina associated with or without back pain
  • Needing to push organs back up into the vagina to empty the bladder or bowels successfully
  • Abnormal connection between your bladder and vagina or rectum and vagina
  • Feeling that you cannot complete a bowel movement or that you need to have several bowel movements in immediate succession
  • Constipation or straining with bowel movements
  • Ongoing pain or pressure in your pelvic region, genitals or rectum
  • Sexual difficulties, such as pain with sex or decreased desire to have sex

What is pelvic organ prolapse?

A pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles and tissues supporting the pelvic organs are stretched or torn, allowing one or more of the pelvic organs to drop or press into or out of the vagina. The pelvic organs include the bladder, uterus and cervix, vagina and rectum.

What is incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control, allowing urine to leak unexpectedly. Fecal incontinence is the loss of control of bowel movements, allowing stool to leak from the rectum unexpectedly.

What are the different types of urinary incontinence or leakage?

One of the most common types of urinary incontinence is stress incontinence, which occurs when there is stress or pressure on the bladder. Another common type is urge incontinence, also called overactive bladder, that involves urine leakage.

What can I expect on my first visit?

Prior to your visit, we request that you complete a new patient questionnaire and a three-day bladder and voiding journal, depending on your symptoms, to get a better sense of your complaints and how they are affecting your quality of life.

The three-day bladder and voiding journal is an important part of your evaluation and will help keep track of your fluid intake and urinary output to better understand your bladder function on a daily basis.

For integrative medicine visits, we will request that you complete an integrative medicine patient packet prior to your visit.

Once you arrive, we will review your history and specific concern followed by a specialized physical exam focused on your bladder, vagina and rectum support.

We will also test your vaginal muscle strength, also known as Kegels, and evaluate areas in the vagina for pain.

If your pelvic organs are falling or there is a bulge, we may examine you lying down and standing up as standing may make the bulge more obvious.

Depending on our findings, we may also suggest further testing.

More Questions?

Please speak with your provider or call us at 215-955-5000. You can also view additional Frequently Asked Questions about managing your Jefferson Health OBGYN visit.