Women’s Health

Who is at Risk

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About 40 percent of women who give birth vaginally will develop one or more of the problems collectively known as pelvic floor disorders. Childbirth leads to pelvic floor damage — a baby stretches the pelvic floor muscles and other tissues on its way through the birth canal, sometimes causing tearing or other damage. Even more damaging is the stretching of pelvic nerves that are needed for muscles to work properly.

Research results show that a number of key factors raise the risk of damage for women who deliver vaginally such as:

  • Older age of the mother
  • Larger weight of the baby
  • The number of vaginal births
  • Longer second stage of labor (the time spent “pushing”)
  • Forceps orvacuum-assisted delivery
  • Episiotomy (a surgical cut made in the perineum during childbirth)

Sometimes women believe pelvic floor disorder symptoms are just a normal consequence of childbirth or a normal part of aging. Often women are too embarrassed to mention these problems to their doctor. The truth is that pelvic floor disorder symptoms, although common, are never a “normal” part of childbirth or aging.

For more information or to schedule an appointment with a provider near you, call St. Luke’s InfoLink toll-free a 1-866-STLUKES.