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No Laughing Matter

No Laughing Matter photo 1If you are afraid of laughing—or sneezing or coughing—because of a possible “accident,” it is time to learn about incontinence, pain and other pelvic floor disorders.

That “little accident” should not be ignored.

“Don’t make me laugh!” you might say to your friends, in the middle of a lively conversation. However, if you are truly afraid of laughing—or sneezing or coughing—because of a possible “accident,” it is time to learn about incontinence, pain and other pelvic floor disorders.

Atrium Medical Center now offers specialized physical therapy to relieve the symptoms of pelvic floor disorders. Below, physical therapist Margo Cox answers questions she hears from patients and explains what the pelvic floor is, the symptoms you should watch for and how this specialized physical therapy can help.

What is the “pelvic floor?”

Margo: The pelvic floor is the group of muscles that form a “sling” or hammock across the opening of the pelvis. Pelvic floor muscles can become weak through aging, surgery or other conditions. A pelvic floor disorder occurs when the pelvic muscles and connective tissue become weakened or injured.

What are symptoms of a weak pelvic floor? 

Margo: A man or a woman may have pelvic pain and/or problems with bladder and bowel control.

Isn’t it normal to lose slight control of the bladder every now and then?

Margo: Incontinence, or loss of bladder or bowel control, may be common but it is not normal. In women between 18 and 59 years of age, 26 percent have involuntary leakage.

Should a person talk to their doctor about even occasional leakage?

Margo: Absolutely. Be frank about how many times leakage occurs and how much it interferes with your life. Studies show that women with pelvic floor disorders may not seek treatment from their medical provider for up to eight years because they are embarrassed.

Q. Is there any harm in just waiting?

Margo: Yes. Incontinence usually gets worse. In fact, it’s a major reason why people are admitted to nursing homes.

What does the specialized physical therapy at Atrium do?

Margo: We offer non-surgical methods to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and relieve the symptoms of pelvic floor disorders. These treatments can also improve pelvic floor issues related to pregnancy and menopause in women, and prostatitis and post-prostate surgery issues in men. 

Q. Where does Atrium offer the treatments?

Margo: Our office and private treatment rooms are in the Women’s Center in the Professional Building at Atrium.

Q. What’s the first step?

No Laughing Matter Cox HSMargo: Discuss any pelvic floor problem with your health care provider—a family doctor, an OB/GYN, an allergist or urologist. Ask if physical therapy is an option for you to improve the situation. A physician referral is required.

Margo Cox, PT, OCS, Site Coordinator, Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy  

Physical Therapy Services for Pelvic Floor Disorders

Specialized physical therapy services are available for women and men who have been diagnosed with pelvic floor disorders such as:

  • Pelvic organ prolapse/pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Bladder and bowel control/incontinence
  • Pelvic floor pain and tension
  • Perimenopause and menopause
  • Postpartum issues
  • Pregnancy-related pain issues
  • For men - prostatitis, postprostatectomy issues and pudendal nerve entrapment

To find out more about treatment options for these conditions, visit

Looking for a physician? Call CareFinders toll free at (866) 608-FIND (3463)(866) 608-FIND (3463).

Content Updated: May 11, 2016

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