We want to start by saying that issues with pelvic floor are a common condition, but many women delay reporting them to their doctor. The problems women experience vary, but in most cases early intervention can lead to better results with treatment. Problems with injury or damage to the pelvic floor musculature, bowel, bladder or uterus can be addressed by meeting with a Board-certified Gynecologist. We obtain your history and perform a careful exam. Treatment options vary from medications, to surgery, office CO2 laser treatment, or physical therapy according to what and where the problem exists.
Need to know more? Read on as we review 5 common problems when the Pelvic Floor doesn’t function like it should. But first…as you can see in the photo, think of the pelvic floor as a hammock of intricately connected muscles lining the pelvis and incorporating several organs in order to assist us with bladder and bowel control, posture, and sexual function, and these muscles are at risk for injury during childbirth for obvious reasons.
The Pelvic Floor. It sounds vague and ill-defined. We hear we should “contract it” in our yoga, barre and Pilates classes, but most women aren’t exactly sure where their “floor” really is and why it’s important. The diagnosis and successful treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction strongly impacts and improves the quality of a woman’s life. Many women think that especially after childbirth, these are conditions they just have to live with and do not report the sufferings that they experience. The 5 most common conditions we see in our clinic that we hope more women will seek treatment for are as follows:
1. Urinary frequency or urgency
The average adult makes six to eight trips to the bathroom each day. However, if you’re going to the bathroom more often than every two hours or need to rush to the bathroom in order to avoid “an accident” it could mean you’re dealing with an overactive bladder or OAB.
An overactive bladder occurs when the muscular fibers of the bladder contract too frequently or at random creating that “gotta go” feeling. A strong pelvic floor can provide a reflex “quieting” of the bladder’s irritable contractility, reducing urgency and allowing you control.
2. Stress Urinary Incontinence
If you find you leak a small amount of urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or try out your nephew’s new backyard trampoline, you have stress urinary incontinence or SUI.
SUI is the involuntary loss of urine due to any physical activity that puts strain on the bladder. SUI affects nearly 8 million women in the U.S, and occurs when the pelvic muscles supporting the bladder and urethra have been damaged or weakened, typically during childbirth.
3. Constipation, pain with bowel movments or a sensation of incomplete defecation.
A weakened pelvic floor can sometimes lead to bowel dysmotility and a decreased efficiency in evacuating stool. This condition is referred to as Dyssnergic Defecation. This sometimes manifests as constipation or spastic pain during defecation or an incomplete emptying of stool within the rectum. The actual act of defecation is a complex sequence of coordinated events involving the contraction and relaxation of pelvic muscles.
4. Back Pain /Pelvic Pain/ Pain with intercourse
We engage our pelvic floor muscles during all of our daily activities. They assist us in good posture and efficient, coordinated movement, but when weakened or damaged, they often evoke back and pelvic pain and limit our flexibility and coordination. Similarly, damaged or a weakened pelvic floor can lead to pain with intercourse and with orgasm in particular, as the pelvic floor muscles contract forcefully.
5. Uterine or Vaginal Prolapse
Damage to the pelvic floor during childbirth allows normal structures housed within the pelvis to sag or protrude into the vagina and very occasionally beyond the vaginal opening. Uterine and vaginal prolapse becomes more common as we age with a decline in our body’s estrogen mileau and subsequent loss of elasticity and strength to tissues. A sensation of pelvic heaviness and pressure, and the presence of a noticeable bulge in the vagina, particularly with prolonged standing, heavy lifting or straining, is common.
If you have experienced any of these conditions please call our clinic to schedule an exam with one of our Board-certified Gynecologists 608-227-7007.