Industry-Backed Patient Group Supports Surgery, Treatment

Jane Akre
September 27, 2012

Pelvic Floor Disorders Alliance

September 26, 2012 ~ With all of the news about complications resulting from transvaginal synthetic surgical mesh, and the thousands of product liability lawsuits filed in state and federal court, one might assume industry would push back.

That’s exactly what is happening.

The Pelvic Floor Disorders Alliance is launching a Public Awareness Campaign, “Break Free from PFDs,” to tell women that pelvic floor disorders are not unusual – one in three women will suffer at some point in their lives.

A pelvic floor disorder can include pelvic organ prolapse (POP), bladder or bowel control problems, weak pelvic muscles or tears in connective tissues.

In a news release (here), the campaign encourages women to seek out treatment, not undertreat PFDs and suffer in silence.

In a survey conducted in August, the group reported this week that 90 percent of Americans are uncertain about pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) and think they are a normal part of aging. Dr. Karen Noblett, Professor and Division Director for Urogynecology at the University of California, Irvine, says it is not.

“Although many minimally invasive procedures exist to correct PFDs, only one in five women report they would undergo a surgical procedure to correct a PFD,” the news release says. About 40 percent responded to the survey they would manage a PFD with over-the-counter pads or wait until it became uncomfortable.

“PFDs can impact various aspects of life, everything from exercise and travel to confidence and sexual intimacy, but women should not be embarrassed or feel like they just have to live with it. Instead, we want to empower women to speak up with confidence,” she says.

In other words- seek treatment.

The group has a website,, where you can find a provider in your area who will talk you through the surgical options to treat PFD as well as non surgical options such as Kegel exercises and use of a pessary.

Among the risk factors:

  • Caucasian women are more likely than African American and Asian women to experience prolapse
  • Vaginal births double the rate of pelvic floor disorders when compared to Cesarean deliveries
  • Both smoking and obesity are risk factors for pelvic organ prolapse

Matthew Barber, MD, President, American Urogynecologic Society says, “Women do not need to suffer in silence because PFDs can be effectively treated by working with a Urogynecologist to address specific symptoms.”

Industry and The Alliance

The PFD Alliance was formed in September 2011 bringing together doctors, medical societies and “scientific discovery corporations” to increase awareness of PFDs and urge surgical and non-surgical treatment options.

The American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS) founded the organization along with Foundation for Female Health Awareness, (backed by industry here), Boston Scientific Corporation, and Merck Consumer Care.

The corporate donors to the Alliance include mesh manufacturers American Medical Systems, Boston Scientific, Astellas Pharma., Medtronic, Inc. Pfizer, Inc., and LABORIE, a Canadian company that produces equipment to do urogynecologic testing and pelvic muscle rehabilitation. Supporting members will be added in 2012 and 2013.

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