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Pelvic Floor Disorders and Treatment Options

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Posted at 2:29 PM, Mar 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-10 18:05:10-05

Men and women have a pelvic floor; however, they function in slightly different ways. In women, the pelvic floor supports the uterus, bladder, vagina, and rectum. Women may be more likely to experience pelvic floor dysfunction than men due to childbirth, however there are many other causes of pelvic floor dysfunction.

What are pelvic floor disorders?

Some pelvic floor disorders occur when the pelvic “sling” becomes weak or damaged and cannot support the pelvic organs. In other cases, the muscles of the pelvic floor become overly tight or contracted, which can lead to pain. Examples of pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • Pelvic organ prolapse: when the uterus, bladder or bowels drop into the vagina, causing a bulge in the vaginal cavity
  • Urinary incontinence: weak bladder control
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Fecal incontinence: weak bowel control
  • Constipation
  • Pelvic or vaginal pain

Common causes of pelvic floor disorders

Some pelvic floor disorders are caused by weakened pelvic muscles or tears in the connective tissue and others are caused by overactive or tight muscles. Some examples are:

  • Childbirth: most common cause
  • Obesity
  • Repeated heavy lifting or straining
  • Pelvic surgery, radiation treatments or trauma
  • Chronic stress

Possible symptoms of a pelvic floor disorder

  • Pain, burning or pressure in the vagina or rectum (genital region vs vagina to include males)
  • Painful urination or incomplete emptying of the bladder
  • Urinary urgency, frequency or incontinence
  • Constipation or pain during bowel movements
  • Bulge in the vagina or rectum
  • Painful intercourse

Treatment options

  • Physical therapy
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Pelvic floor exercises or relaxation training
  • Vaginal devices