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Post-Pregnancy Health Problems

Urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and painful sex are common side effects of pregnancy and childbirth. Here’s what to do if they happen to you.

by: Nancy Ripton

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here are a lot of things people don't tell you about what happens to your body after you give birth. One of the biggest surprises can be changes to your pelvic health. "It's normal for your pelvic floor to feel a little different after having a baby," says Andrea Joyce, founder of afterbabybody.com.

Why Some Women Experience Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction is a general term that covers incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse and sexual problems. The simple act of carrying a baby to term can cause pelvic floor dysfunction, but the greatest damage is usually done during vaginal delivery. "The more traumatic the delivery, the higher the risk of damage," says Joyce. The use of forceps, a long delivery, or an episiotomy all increase the risk of pelvic floor dysfunction.

The number of children you have can also play a role. A recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that 18% of women who had one baby experience pelvic floor dysfunction. That number goes up to 25% for women who have given birth twice and 32% for those with three or more babies.

Genes may also be a factor as some women just seem more prone to pelvic floor problems. "If you are born with less collagen in your muscles, you will be more prone to tears and injury," says Joyce.

If you're suffering from post-pregnancy pelvic floor dysfunction, here's what you can do:

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