Treatment of Pelvic Floor Disorders

The University of Chicago Center for Pelvic Health offers women and men a wide range of treatment options for pelvic floor disorders such as urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, fecal incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction and pelvic organ prolapse. Our physicians help patients find treatments that best suit their needs and lifestyle.

Nonsurgical Therapies

Many pelvic floor disorders can be treated successfully without surgery. For this reason, strategies such as behavior changes, physical therapy and medication are often the first approach for many patients.

Some of the nonsurgical treatments available include:

  • Instruction with Kegel exercises, which strengthen pelvic floor muscles
  • Physical therapy and biofeedback, which can help patients learn how to strengthen or coordinate their pelvic floor muscles. Unlike some clinics, the Center for Pelvic Health offers convenient access to physical therapy and biofeedback at its main site at the University of Chicago medical campus. These services are also available at six sites around the Chicago area and in Indiana.
  • Medication, which can help treat urinary and fecal incontinence
  • Pessaries, which are small, removable silicone or plastic devices that are inserted through the vagina to help hold pelvic organs in place. Many different types of pessiaries are available that can be fitted comfortably to reduce stress incontinence or treat pelvic organ prolapse
  • Guidance on changing behaviors that can contribute to symptoms. This might include teaching patients how to manage their diet, fluid intake and other habits.
  • Botox® injections into the bladder. An overactive bladder is caused by unwanted contraction of the muscle that controls the bladder. Botox blocks the signals that tell this muscle to contract, but leaves the surrounding muscles able to function properly.

Surgical Therapies

For patients whose symptoms fail to improve with nonsurgical treatment, our physicians can often improve symptoms with surgery. Some of these procedures can be performed using minimally invasive techniques, including robotic-assisted surgery. The benefits of minimally invasive surgery include:

  • Less pain
  • Less injury to tissue
  • Minimal scarring
  • Less blood loss
  • Faster return to normal activities.

In fact, many patients who have these less invasive procedures can go home the same day.

Some of the surgical treatments available include:

  • Urethral bulking, which involves injections to reduce urine leakage
  • Anal bulking, which uses injections to reduce fecal leakage
  • Robotic, laparoscopic and transvaginal pelvic floor repair, which restores the anatomy in people with pelvic organ prolapse
  • Suburethral slings, which are small mesh slings placed under the urethra to help prevent stress incontinence in women and men
  • Bladder neck suspension surgery, a minimally invasive procedure for stress incontinence
  • Surgical repair of anal muscles to correct fecal incontinence
  • An artificial sphincter, an implanted device that keeps the urethra closed until men are able to urinate
  • Sacral nerve modulation, also called sacral nerve stimulation, which uses a small, implanted device to send electrical pulses to the sacral nerves that control bladder and urinary muscles. These electrical pulses help reduce urinary incontinence and control overactive bladder, as well as fecal incontinence.