Pelvic floor disorders are more common than you might think, and these conditions are treatable with the right care from an experienced gynecologist. Signs that you may have a pelvic floor disorder include:
- Constipation or straining pain with bowel movements
- Feeling like you can’t finish a bowel movement (called a voiding dysfunction)
- Feeling like you need to have several bowel movements in a short time
- Painful urination
- The frequent need to urinate
- Having to stop and start urinating many times
- Discomfort during sexual intercourse for women
- Pain in your lower back that isn’t caused by any other condition
- Chronic pain in your pelvic area, genitals or rectum
What Causes Pelvic Floor Conditions?
Most often, age and vaginal childbirth are factors in the development of pelvic floor dysfunctions. These conditions typically occur in women over the age of 50. They’re caused by the weakening of the pelvic muscles that act like a sling holding your organs where they’re supposed to be.
In most cases, pelvic floor dysfunctions are caused by childbirth or from complications during childbirth. Accidents and other traumas to the pelvic region may also contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction.
A common, benign type of pelvic floor disorder is pelvic organ prolapse, which is when one or more parts of the vagina (or the uterus) descends. More severe cases happen when organs hemorrhage through the vaginal walls, which can cause incontinence, difficulty completing a bowel movement, discomfort during sex and occasional back pain.
Managing and Preventing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic floor pain and dysfunction can be prevented and managed effectively.
Exercises for Pelvic Health
Regularly doing pelvic floor muscle exercises like Kegel exercises can:
- Strengthen the pelvic muscles
- Help women gain coordination and control over the pelvic floor
- Increase muscle endurance
- Alleviate some symptoms of pelvic floor conditions
Additionally, women can talk to their doctors about:
- Targeted rehabilitative techniques
- Pelvic floor therapy options
- Relaxation exercises
- Muscle-strengthening techniques
- Personalized, at-home exercises
Physical therapy is recommended as the first step toward your pelvic health, as well as after surgery, if required. Having strong and healthy muscles and connective tissue before going into surgery promotes faster healing and better coordination and control before and after surgery.
Another way of managing pelvic organ prolapse is by using pessaries. A pessary is a silicone device that’s inserted in the vagina to hold the organs in their natural position and alleviate symptoms. Using pessaries requires maintenance and regular visits to a gynecologist and does not treat the disorder.
If conservative management doesn’t provide the relief that someone needs, it may be time to consider surgical options. Surgery is the only fix for pelvic organ prolapse and is also recommended for women who have significant voiding dysfunction if physical therapy provides no relief.
Two types of surgery for pelvic floor dysfunction are reconstructive surgery (tissue repair) and obliterative surgery, the latter of which is usually reserved for older patients who have no interest in sexual intercourse. These surgeries generally only take an hour or two and patients will likely stay one night in the hospital for observation afterward.
Compassionate Care Personalized to You
If you’ve been experiencing pelvic floor pressure or think you may have pelvic floor dysfunction, don’t wait to get the care you deserve. With personalized gynecologic care from experts in women’s care, you can learn to cope with or overcome a pelvic floor disorder and feel whole.