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Everything You Need to Know About Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Both men and women have a pelvic floor, although pelvic floor dysfunction is much more prevalent in women than in men. In women, the pelvic floor refers to the muscles, ligaments, connective tissues and nerves that support the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum in a kind of sling. For men, the pelvic floor refers to the muscles, ligaments and connective tissues around the prostate, bladder, rectum and other pelvic organs. Pelvic floor dysfunction refers to when the sling, sometimes also described as a hammock, fails to support the organs because it becomes weak or damaged.

Types:

There are three types of pelvic floor dysfunctions: urinary incontinence, which causes a lack of bladder control, bowel incontinence, which causes a lack of bowel control and pelvic organ prolapse, which may cause the bowel, bladder, and uterus to drop into the vagina, causing a bulge.

Causes:

The exact causes of pelvic floor dysfunctions are largely unknown but may be caused by accidents, injuries, and complications from childbirth. Many cases of pelvic floor dysfunction have unknown causes.

Symptoms:

  • Feeling like you have to move your bowels frequently within a short time period.
  • Feeling you can’t finish having a bowel movement.
  • Straining or constipation.
  • Frequent need to urinate or starting and stopping multiple times.
  • Pain with urination.
  • Unexplained lower back pain.
  • Pain in the pelvic region, genitals, or rectum.
  • Women may have pain with sexual intercourse.

Treatments:

  • Biofeedback with a physical therapist using sensors to help you understand how to control your muscles.
  • Medication to help relax muscles causing pelvic floor dysfunction.
  • Relaxation techniques like warm baths, yoga, and exercises.
  • Surgery may be required in cases of a prolapse.
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction is a treatable condition that usually benefits the most from biofeedback and physical therapy. Your doctor can perform an exam to determine your pelvic floor dysfunction and recommend a treatment protocol.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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