What is New in Vaginal and Pelvic Floor Boot Camp?
By: Holly L. Thacker, MD • Posted on May 08, 2019
An Updated Women's Boot Camp
Vaginal and pelvic floor strength training is generally intensive, productive and life changing. We refer to our new pelvic floor program, which includes new FDA cleared pelvic floor muscle stimulator devices, as “vaginal boot camp”.
This program is designed to help women achieve their goals through a variety of treatment options.
Remember Your Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are very important for women and you should have your women's health care clinician assess your pelvic tone at the time of your pelvic exam. Women should be taught to do these exercises PRIOR to, during and after the pregnancy. Unfortunately, many women have very weak pelvic muscles which can lead to the following:
- Urinary leakage
- Pelvic prolapse
- Decreased sexual function and trouble with achieving sexual climax (the pelvic muscles contract with climax)
- Fecal incontinence-bowel/gas leakage
Urinary Leakage is not a Normal Part of Aging
Urinary leakage is a serious problem. The three types of urinary leakage are:
- Stress incontinence: Involuntary leakage when one coughs or sneezes.
- Urinary urge incontinence: Involuntary urine leakage when one has urge to urinate, so called “overactive bladder."
- The dreaded and common mixed urinary leakage: Having both stress incontinence and urinary urge incontinence.
Urinary leakage is embarrassing and is not a normal part of aging. It is very common in women because of anatomy and the pelvic trauma of pregnancy and childbirth. The following can also influence the strength of the pelvic floor:
- Genetic factors that affect collagen/support structures in the pelvis
- Bowel function
- Surgical procedures
- Medical conditions
Treatment for Incontinence
- Prescription medications for overactive bladder
- One over-the-counter Oxytrol® (Oxybutynin) transdermal skinpatch or gel
- Surgical procedures for both stress and urinary urge incontinence
There are many treatment options available but many women are looking for non-invasive options – they do not want to use an app to find the closest bathroom or buy liners and adult diapers to handle the leakage. In addition, some women (and men) can suffer with fecal incontinence (from damage/weakness of the anal sphincter), which can dramatically and negatively affect one's life. Furthermore, pelvic mesh used to treat pelvic prolapse has been taken off the market.
There are non-surgical, drug-free treatments available for female urinary incontinence. Made by InControl Medical, these devices use muscle stimulation algorithms, active resistance and biofeedback to increase muscle strength in the pelvic floor and Attain treats both urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence.
- Attain can be used vaginally or rectally for mixed, urge or stress urinary leakage and/or fecal incontinence.
- The second device is a non-medical device called Intensity device that also has a clitoral vibrator. This is for women with a normal sized vagina and is available over the counter and may help the pelvic floor, bladder function and sexual function.
For women starting “vaginal boot camp," they have to commit to 10 minutes of the pelvic floor muscle device stimulation daily for six days per week for at least three to six months until the underlying problem is resolved. Afterwards, women need to use the device at least weekly to keep the pelvic floor muscles well-toned and it is best to consult with your women’s health specialist to find out what is the best medical regimen for you!
Part of being strong, healthy and in charge is having a strong, healthy and well contracting pelvic floor!
For more information, please download our free urinary incontinence guide.
Be Strong. Be Healthy. Be in Charge!
-Holly L. Thacker, MD
Holly L. Thacker, MD, FACP is nationally known for her leadership in women’s health. She is the founder of the Cleveland Clinic Women’s Health Fellowship and is currently the Professor and Director of the Center for Specialized Women’s Health at Cleveland Clinic and Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Her special interests are menopause and related medical problems including osteoporosis, hormone therapy, breast cancer risk assessment, menstrual disorders, female sexual dysfunction and interdisciplinary women’s health. Dr. Thacker is the Executive Director of Speaking of Women’s Health and the author of The Cleveland Clinic Guide to Menopause.