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Don't Be Embarrassed to have a Potty Mouth

Posted May 19, 2015 by Mary M. South, M.D.

My patients frequently express embarrassment during their visits with me in regards to their pelvic floor disorders. Most people don't like to discuss, even with their physician, symptoms like urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.

I grew up in a family of seven, with two brothers and two sisters. We were (are) a rowdy crew, and potty jokes never cease to amuse us. When I started dating my husband, I realized that my family may have been a little unusual this way. The first time I farted in front of him, probably a month into our relationship, he looked at me in shock (and horror?). I laughed and said, "Haven't you ever heard a girl fart before?" He said, "No, actually, in my family we went to the bathroom to pass gas." He soon realized I did not have much inhibition when it came to bodily functions.

Recently, a patient of mine came in and told me that she was having problems with controlling her gas. Farts would escape at the most inopportune time and she felt considerable embarrassment from these episodes. She finally committed to confiding in her physician about this issue and she said to me, "It was clear that he was just as embarrassed by my disclosure as I was to disclose this information. That's when he referred me to you."

Bottom line, most people, me not included, find talking about peeing their pants, losing stool at unexpected and undesirable times, and any other number of "pelvic floor disorders" embarrassing. And let's face it; the phrase "pelvic floor disorders" is just a palatable way of talking about these conditions in polite company. What I want people to know, is that a great majority of our population has one or a combination of these issues.

Researchers in my area of expertise (i.e. Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery a.k.a. Urogynecology), have developed multiple surveys and symptom questionnaires to help women identify the possible "disorder" associated with their symptoms and to even determine the extent to how bothersome these symptoms may be to them.

At Summa, we have taken one of those surveys (the PFDI-20, Pelvic Floor Distress Inventory twenty question) and made it publically available so women can privately explore these issues and seek help in our clinics with those of us who not only are not embarrassed by these conditions, but, in addition, find helping women find relief very rewarding.

So, take the quiz, and get in touch with us! And, don't be embarrassed. We talk about it all the time!

Mary M. South, M.D.
Summa Women's Health Institute
Summa Health System


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