According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 50% of women over the age of 65 will experience urinary incontinence. Despite how common the issue is, Greenville urogynecologist Dr. Rebecca Rinko says this is not a health issue that women have to live with, if they do not want to.
“Most women that I speak to, think that it’s a natural part of aging, and although it is common and more common as we age, [and] age is certainly a risk factor, it is not normal,” Dr. Rinko said.
Dr. Rinko described urogynecology and the health issues that fall within her subspecialty. “The main problems that we treat are going to be pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and bladder pain syndrome,” she said.
Dr. Rinko said pelvic organ prolapse is disorder of tissues of the pelvic floor. “Often females will feel a lot of pressure, will feel like something is coming out of the vagina. It can be a disfunction of the tissue between the bladder and the vagina, or the rectum and the vagina, or even where the uterus and cervix are. The most common complaint is pressure or a bulge, coming down,” she said.
Physical therapy, medicine, and surgery are among the treatment options that Dr. Rinko uses with patients. Patient Dorothy Reynolds said she wished she had sought treatment years ago for pelvic organ prolapse and described her life beforehand. “My quality of life was very detrimentally affected. You have to start planning what you can and can’t do around your accessibility,” she said. “If you are participating in activities, sometimes you think about it and you limit what you can do, because you know you’re not as capable.” For some patients, this may mean constantly having to be aware of where restrooms are located and staying close to one at all times.
Reynolds ultimately chose to have surgery, performed by Dr. Rinko. “If I had it to go back over, I would have addressed this issue long before I did. The quality of life that I’ve experienced since the surgery, it’s just been amazing.” Reynolds said. She continued, “Since my operation, I’m reading to climb Mount Everest; I’m ready to go. The quality of life has totally changed. I’m back in the gym. I’m back on my bicycle. I am walking. It’s just night and day.”
Dr Rinko said, “Unfortunately, these problems are not uncommon. Fortunately, for these women, they’re not alone. And that’s what we’re here for, to treat and help them improve their quality of life, and get them back to where they would like to be.”
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