Record NHS waiting lists exacerbate the health crisis of hidden women, forcing suffering patients (often new mothers) suffering from incontinence and vaginal prolapse to pay for medical care.
Millions of women experience urinary incontinence and vaginal prolapse each year, and women who give birth recently are at particular risk, but access to care that was already patchy before 2020 is Covid- 19 It has fallen off a cliff since the onset of the pandemic. Me Have learned.
The Draft Nice Guidelines released this year state that women with pelvic floor dysfunction who experience risk factors during childbirth, such as forceps, should be offered a three-month pelvic muscle training program. Ideally, this treatment should be provided by a professional pelvic physiotherapist.
Vaginal prolapse: Vaginal prolapse, or pelvic organ prolapse, occurs when the muscles and tissues that support the pelvic organs (the bladder of the intestine or the upper part of the vagina) weaken or loosen, causing the organs to slide from their normal position into the vagina. Studies show that prolapse can have a significant impact on a woman’s mental and mental health.
Urinary incontinence: Urinary incontinence is very common after childbirth, and it is said that one in three new mothers experience it to some extent. During childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles can be weakened or damaged, and the pressure in the bladder is greater than the strength of the urethra and remains closed. Incontinence can affect relationships and careers and can lead patients to avoid exercise and sex.
Vaginal atrophy: Vaginal atrophy is a thinning of the vaginal wall caused by low estrogen levels. Women who experience this condition are more likely to have chronic vaginal infections and urinary problems. It can also make sex painful.One woman who talked to Me The state is described as follows. “People don’t talk about it. I can’t even imagine what would happen if I were a woman trying to meet a new partner. It seems really depressing.”
However, the waiting times are so long that some women become prisoners in their own homes and women who can afford to go private pay for treatment from their pockets.
Me He told patients and physiotherapists in the UK, Scotland and Wales that more than 6 months of waiting time was reported just to access phone appointments that did not allow physical examination.
Men can also suffer from incontinence, but experts agree that the problem is much more widespread among women.
In addition to the discomfort, embarrassment, and loss of self-confidence that incontinence and vaginal prolapse can cause, these conditions can also lead to serious mental health problems. Women who suffer from urinary incontinence after childbirth are almost twice as likely to experience postpartum depression.In the 2011 study published in British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology..
“Experience vaginal prolapse was one of the most traumatic times of my life.”
Sarah (not her real name), 32, experienced vaginal prolapse in March after giving birth in December last year and sought personal care when she was unable to receive treatment through the NHS. rice field.
“No one told me what prolapse was-I was completely uncomfortable, said Sarah, who lives in Haringay, north of London.
“I felt the vaginal wall depressed and I didn’t know if it was normal … it was one of the most traumatic times of my life.
“I was born with forceps delivery. I was completely incontinent for the first week or two, but now it’s clear that I’m escaping,” she said.
Sarah was able to book an appointment with her GP and asked if she should meet a pelvic physiotherapist, but was told no and did a pelvic floor exercise – no one asked her how to do this Did not show.
She was eventually offered a phone appointment with a physiotherapist, but not a direct consultation, as her husband’s health insurance would help cover the cost of £ 80 per session, instead. I decided to go private.
“My physiotherapy is on top of her game [but] It’s expensive, “said Sarah.
“I have a woman [waiting for NHS appointments] Perhaps they will be taught half of what they need to know and, if lucky, they will be referred to a physiotherapist who will not be able to see them for months. “
“As far as I know, the pelvic physics service here was temporarily suspended last year and has not been resumed,” said GP Natalie Doson, who is practicing at Altrincham in Trafford, Manchester. ..
“Women often make mistakes in pelvic floor exercises, so they can’t print from leaflets with information. As GPs, we aren’t trained to teach people how to exercise. At best, it works. No, but it can make things worse. ”
The backlog of patients caused by Covid’s delay is so large that the only way to get people to see them quickly is to refer them through a two-week suspected cancer route, Dr. Dawson added. I did.
Patients with other symptoms and symptoms are affected as well, but Dr. Dawson said: It’s getting very bad. ”
Elaine Miller is an Edinburgh-based pelvic physiotherapist and fellow of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP).
She said that the sheer number of obstacles women face in accessing treatment is “ridiculous from a public health standpoint,” as the NHS physiotherapist burns out and leaves its role. The department’s area has lost experts and warned that the problem could be exacerbated.
“There are only about 900 registered specialists in the UK. In Wales, we can’t hire, so we’re having a lot of trouble getting the service,” Miller said.
One woman who talked to Me She recently said she began paying £ 55 a month to meet her pelvic physiotherapist personally after being unable to make a direct general practitioner appointment for referrals.
A Welsh-based, 36-year-old woman who didn’t want to be named said:
Lauren Connors, a CSP spokeswoman, said he would provide patients with telephone or online consultation if this intimate situation was “worse.”
“In Scotland and England [there are] People introduced in 2019 are currently only looking at the physiology of the pelvis, “she said.
“The waiting list is longer than ever, which is affecting people’s quality of life. Of course, it’s preferably private.”
Connors added: “Waiting for a few weeks is not enough, as pelvic health problems only get worse. Everyone needs equal access to the NHS.”
The Ministry of Health, NHS England and the Scottish Government did not respond to requests for comment.