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Women Wellness

What are the treatment options for pelvic floor disorders?

What Are the Symptoms and Causes of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction? How to Manage?

Written and Reviewed by Dr. Uzma Qureshi
Published on: 30/04/2024

Are you having an issue while urinating or passing stools, or are there any unusual feelings in your pelvic area? It may be a sign that your pelvic floor muscles are weak or tight. Understanding the answer to ‘What are the symptoms and causes of pelvic floor dysfunction? is important for better management

Do not worry; you are not alone. Early 2023 statistics reveal that nearly 60% of UK women experience at least one symptom associated with weak pelvic muscles. Dysfunctional pelvic floor muscles can cause various problems that affect your daily and social lives.

In this blog, you will learn: What are the symptoms and causes of pelvic floor dysfunction? Also, explore how effective lifestyle modifications can be made to manage it. 

What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Your pelvic floor is like a foundation. It is a group of muscles that make a sling down there and support the organs like the bladder, rectum, and uterus (prostate in males). These muscles contract and relax according to your will when you need to pee or pass a stool. The pelvic floor also supports your sexual function.

When these supporting muscles do not work properly, i.e., when they become hyperactive (tight) or less active (weak), your pelvic floor becomes dysfunctional. Every woman experiences varying compromises in the functions of the organs supported by this foundation.

It is possible that you feel different signs and symptoms than another female with this condition.

What are the symptoms and causes of pelvic floor dysfunction?

The pelvic floor muscles support your organs (the bladder, rectum, and uterus). Any dysfunction of these muscles affects your organs, and they can present a variety of symptoms. 

We have divided pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms into different categories for your better learning.

General symptoms

  • Pelvic pain: You may feel pain down there because of any tight or weak muscles and irritated nerves nearby in the pelvic area, or there can be a trigger point. The pain can increase or decrease depending on the activities you perform.

  • Low back pain: Low back pain can occur as a result of dysfunctional muscles. Any issue in the pelvic region can cause pain in your lower back

  • Pelvic pressure: Due to weakened muscles, you can feel heaviness in your pelvic region. It is felt when the organs tend to move down rather than stay in their place.

    Bladder-related symptoms

    A compromised bladder function can cause any of the following symptoms:

    • Hesitant urination: It might become difficult for you to start passing urine or maintain passing it. At times, even after peeing, you might feel like your bladder is not empty.
    • Frequent urination: Pelvic floor dysfunction impacts your frequency of urination. You may need to pee again and again, even after coming back from the bathroom.

    Gynaecological Symptoms

    • Uncomfortable sex: One of the pelvic floor dysfunction signs is pain during sex (dyspareunia). You may feel a sharp pain in your pelvis during sex or after that.

    • Difficulty reaching orgasm: This condition may make it difficult for you to enjoy sex. You might find it challenging to get aroused or achieve orgasm.

    Rectum-related symptoms

    The rectum is the part of the large intestine that stores your stool before your body expels it. The following are a few symptoms that your rectum shows:

    • Difficulty passing stool: The tight pelvic floor muscles may make it difficult for you to pass the stool. Sometimes you may need to push hard enough to expel the stool.

    • Faecal incontinence: It means your stool may leak, especially when you are not expecting it. Dysfunctional muscles make it difficult for you to pass the stool by your will. At times, you may feel like your bowel is not empty.

    • Constipation: The overactive pelvic floor muscles do not let you pass the stool. They may become too tight or do not relax (dyssynergia defecation), leaving you constipated.

    • Bulging from anus: Anus is the opening of your rectum. Sometimes, when your rectum is not getting enough support, you may feel it bulging out of your anus.

    Pelvic floor dysfunction causes 

    If you are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is possible that your pelvic floor is not working right. To manage this effectively, you must know what is causing the disruption.

    The causes include:

    • Age: As you age and get older, your pelvic floor muscles get weaker and more prone to improper functioning.

    • Pregnancy: During pregnancy, when your uterus holds the baby and bears some extra weight, the muscles may get loose or weak.

    • Childbirth: Birthing a baby is a complex process. During labour, while pushing out the baby, you may strain your muscles. The number of vaginal deliveries may heighten the risk.

    • Chronic constipation: Struggling with constipation for a long time means you are straining your muscles to expel the stool. Your pelvic floor muscles can get weaker due to long-term stress.

    • Surgeries: Certain surgeries, like hysterectomy, can cause PFD.

    • Obesity: Being overweight or obese increases pressure on your pelvis and pelvic muscles. This increased stress can be another cause of this condition. 

    • Genetics: Having genetically weaker connective tissues can also cause muscle dysfunction. 

    • Nerve damage: Any nerve damage or entrapment of the pudendal nerve causes PFD. Spinal cord injury can be another reason, as it affects pudendal nerve function. 

    Lifestyle Modifications for Prevention and Management

    After learning, ‘What are the symptoms and causes of pelvic floor dysfunction?”  it’s time to see what you can do to manage them. 

    Following are some lifestyle changes that you can adopt to prevent and manage this condition effectively. 

    Exercise:

    Working out and staying physically active helps you maintain your weight and bowel movements as well. So, start exercising. 

    Moreover, kegel exercises (the hold-relax exercise technique for pelvic floor muscles) have shown a reduction in urine leakage. This technique strengthens your pelvic floor and teaches you control over it. We also recommend it to strengthen your core muscles.

    Maintain your weight:

    As you know, being overweight or obese increases the risk, so it is better to maintain your weight. Stay active, maintain your diet, and do not let your weight increase as it increases the pressure on your pelvic muscles. 

    Research says that losing 3–5% of your weight decreases urinary incontinence episodes by 50%.

    Diet:

    Your diet is essential to the healthy functioning of your body. Maintain your diet; avoid alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and high-sugar and fat products. Take foods that do not cause constipation and are easy to digest. 

    Retrain your bladder:

    It means setting your schedule. Following a bathroom schedule helps prevent leaks caused by delayed signals from the brain. 

      You can start by urinating every hour or 90 minutes throughout the day. Then gradually extend the interval between bathroom visits. Aim to go every 2 ½ to 3 hours, with consistency being crucial for success

      Also read: What are the treatment options for pelvic floor disorders?

      At MySkyn Clinic, Dr. Uzma uses Empower RF by InMode. It’s an advanced tool that uses special radiation to help with peeing troubles. It makes the muscles down there stronger and helps control the bladder better. And guess what? No big cuts are needed, and you’ll be back to normal in no time!

      Bottomline

      This condition can significantly impact your daily life and cause inconvenience and discomfort. It is essential to recognise what are the symptoms and causes of pelvic floor dysfunction so that you can modify your lifestyle accordingly. 

      Whether it’s pelvic pain, chronic constipation, or urinary incontinence, you can always talk to your doctor. Try to avoid being overweight and lifting heavy weights by bending forward.

      Seek medical help, but making wise lifestyle changes is the key to preventing PFD. By taking proactive steps and staying informed, you can improve your quality of life and better manage this condition. 

      FAQs about pelvic floor dysfunction:

      What are the symptoms and causes of pelvic floor dysfunction in females?

      Symptoms: Urinary/faecal incontinence, pelvic pain, painful intercourse, difficulty emptying the bladder/bowels, pelvic organ prolapse.

      Causes: Pregnancy/childbirth, ageing, chronic coughing/constipation, pelvic surgery, obesity, genetics, hormonal changes, high-impact activities, and psychological factors.

      What are the five functions of the pelvic floor?

      1. Supports internal organs.
      2
      . Acting as sphincters for the urethra, vagina, and anus
      3
      . Facilitating sexual function
      4
      . Stabilise the truck.
      5
      . Acting as a sump pump to help circulate lymphatic fluid from the legs back to the heart.

      What is the best treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction?

      Some common treatment options include pelvic floor physical therapy, which involves exercises to strengthen and relax the pelvic floor muscles, biofeedback therapy to help improve muscle coordination and lifestyle modifications such as dietary changes and bladder retraining. In some cases, medications or surgery may be recommended.

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