This post was last updated on February 6, 2017.\nMany women notice as they age or after having children that they aren\u2019t able to control their bladder or bowel movements as well. You may even think that incontinence is a normal part of aging that just has to be dealt with.\nIt\u2019s not. It may be a sign of a treatable problem.\n\nWhat is Pelvic Floor Disorder?\nAbout 25 percent of women have some form of pelvic floor disorder (PFD). The pelvic floor refers to the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue in the lowest part of your pelvis. It supports organs including the bladder, uterus, and vagina.\nWhen these muscles weaken or tear, you may experience symptoms such as bladder or bowel incontinence or vagina bulge.\nSymptoms of PFD vary, but bladder control problems are one of the most common and embarrassing issues.\nYou may think that #incontinence is just a normal part of aging, but it's not. Click To Tweet\nWhat increases your risk of PFD?\nAnything that damages or weakens the pelvic floor increases your risk of PFD. Vaginal childbirth is one of the most common causes. However, many other factors increase your risk:\n\nSmoking\nMenopause\nAge\nGenetics\nObesity\nHeavy lifting\nChronic constipation or straining\n\nWhat Can I Do About Pelvic Floor Disorder?\nFirst, talk to your primary care physician or gynecologist about your symptoms. Your doctor can refer you to a urogynecologist, a specialist trained to treat women with PFD.\nLearn more about the comprehensive specialty care at Magee-Womens, UPMC Hamot, located in Erie, PA.\nThe specialist will work with you to develop a treatment plan that may include:\n\nLifestyle changes\nPhysical therapy\nMedications\nSurgery\n\nHaving a PFD doesn\u2019t always mean you need surgery. You can make a few lifestyle changes that may be enough to control your symptoms. You may need to:\n\nLose weight\nMange your fluid intake by restricting when and how much you drink\nAvoid fluids that create the urge to urinate like caffeine and artificial sweeteners\nExercise regularly\nPerform Kegel exercises regularly\nRetrain your bladder\nStop smoking\nWear panty liners, pads, diapers, or briefs\n\nIf these changes don\u2019t help, your doctor may talk to you about a vaginal device called a pessary, which helps support the pelvic floor muscles, physical therapy, medications, or surgery.\nThe most important first step you can take is to talk about your symptoms, no matter how embarrassing. You are not alone, and you have a wide-range of treatment choices to help you manage your specific condition and symptoms.