Study: Millennial Women More Likely To Experience Pelvic Health Symptoms

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May 10 2024, Published 8:10 a.m. ET

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A recent study from Origin, a provider of women’s pelvic floor and full-body physical therapy, examined the prevalence of pelvic health symptoms in women ages 18-59 and found that pelvic health symptoms have reached epidemic proportions, while the majority of women are not receiving adequate care. 

The study surveyed more than 600 women (180 Gen Z, 227 Millennials and 205 Gen Xers) as well as 112 women who gave birth within the past five years and who were between the ages of 18-49. It found that 83% of women ages 18-59 experienced at least one pelvic health symptom in the past year, with an average of five per year. According to the study, millennial women are even more likely to experience a pelvic health symptoms.

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Source: Unsplash

Symptoms identified in this study can be caused by, or related to, pelvic floor dysfunction, which is when the pelvic floor muscles are unable to contract, relax or engage in coordinated movement needed for bladder, bowel or sexual function. Bladder and bowel symptoms impacted 50% of women in the past year, while sex-related symptoms impacted one in three women in the past year.

While 64% of women said their pelvic health symptoms negatively impact their lives, 96 percent said they have not been diagnosed with a related medical condition.

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Women who recently gave birth also reported an increase in pelvic health symptoms, with 32% of women who gave birth in the past five years experiencing pain with sex and 67% experiencing bladder leaks within the past year. Of the women who gave birth in the past five years, 92% did not see a pelvic floor physical therapist for support after they delivered.

What The Experts Say

According to the Mayo Clinic, up to 25% of adults have urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic pressure, sexual problems or pelvic organ prolapse.

“Anything that puts pressure on the pelvis, including pregnancy and childbirth, chronic cough, chronic constipation, constant straining while toileting or nerve damage from surgery or disease, can lead to a pelvic floor disorder,” said Dr. Brooke Gurland, MD, a colorectal surgeon at the Stanford Health Care Pelvic Health Center, in an article on the Stanford Medicine website.

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Stanford Medicine offers tips for pelvic health at any age, including using Kegel exercises, drinking enough fluids to avoid constipation, dietary changes, meditation to loosen tight pelvic muscles and maintaining a healthy weight. People who have connective tissue disorders, steroid dependency, have had multiple births, a history of pelvic radiation and pelvic surgery are at a higher risk for pelvic health issues and should undergo evaluation early to maintain good pelvic floor health, according to experts.

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Source: Pexels

What To Do For A Remedy

Start by seeing your primary care physician or a gynecologist you are comfortable with. You may then be referred to a gastroenterologist, urogynecologist or a physical therapist, according to the Mayo Clinic. In order to prepare for your appointment, make a list of your symptoms, note key medical information, make a list of your medications and consider bringing a family member or friend along for support.

You should consider asking the following questions: What might be the cause of my symptoms? What tests might I need? What types of treatment might help? Are there lifestyle changes I need to make? Should I see a specialist? (A great resource for more on this can be found via the Mayo Clinic.)

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By: Gillian Smith

Gillian Smith is a professional communicator by day and night, leveraging more than a decade in the news industry to share stories that have a positive impact on society. Gillian believes everyone has a story worth telling, and she has made it her professional mission to tell those stories in a responsible way. Gillian received a BA in journalism from Ithaca College and a Master's in Journalism Innovation from Syracuse University. She is currently the director of external communication and media relations at Suffolk University.

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