About 1 in 4 women will have a pelvic floor disorder during her lifetime. Further, projections estimate up to 5 million women will have this condition by 2050. What is pelvic floor disorder? What are the signs? More importantly, what are the treatments? Learn more about spotting pelvic floor disorder and treatments that fit your life.
The Pelvic Floor
The organs of the pelvis consist of the uterus, cervix, bladder, vagina, urethra, rectum and anus. Supporting these organs is the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is made up of ligaments, tissue and muscles. It keeps all of these organs in place and at their highest level of functioning. Think of a hammock supporting your body. Similarly, if there is a weakness in this support the functions of the corresponding organs will be compromised. Sometimes, they can even drop down (prolapse) into the vagina. For these reasons, identifying pelvic floor disorders is crucial.
Signs of a Pelvic Floor Disorder
Knowing the symptoms of a pelvic floor disorder is the first step to considering your own risk.
The most common signs include:
- Recurrent urine leakage: do you leak small or large amounts of urine when you lift, cough or sneeze or at unexplained times?
- Ongoing bowel difficulties: do you have constipation, inability to control gas expulsion and/or do you leak stool?
- Frequent UTIs (Urinary Tract Infections): have you suffered from UTIs regularly throughout the last few years?
- Feeling pressure or heaviness in the vaginal area: do you feel a pressure down there that you can’t seem to relieve?
Causes of Pelvic Floor Disorders
If the above symptoms hit close to home you may wonder the source. Pelvic floor disorders have many causes. Especially for women, it is important to take note of the following milestones. These are common contributors to a compromised pelvic floor.
Childbirth: If you’ve given birth to multiple children, your pelvic floor has taken a hit. Of course, multiple vaginal deliveries take a toll on the supportive function of the pelvic floor. However, it’s important to recognize that even women with C-sections and multiple pregnancies also experienced prolonged pressure to this region.
Injury: Injury to the pelvic floor can be direct or indirect. An example of an indirect injury would be the result of a gynecological surgery, like a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus). A direct injury often occurs in an accident, such as an auto accident. The pelvic region is directly hit during impact.
Pressure to the Pelvis: The pelvic floor is designed to withstand immense pressure. Still, it is made up of malleable tissues, ligaments and muscles that do give way over time. With that, conditions like obesity tax the pelvic floor. Similarly, stressing this area with ongoing pressure damages the support. Consider lifting heavy objects (as in your job) or having to continually strain during bowel movements.
Types of Pelvic Floor Disorders
Urinary incontinence: There are two types of urinary incontinence that afflict women the most: Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and Urge Incontinence. SUI is leaking small amounts of urine when you cough, sneeze or laugh – or otherwise put minor stress on the pelvis during natural activities of daily living. Urge Incontinence is the feeling of “always needing to go,” despite having just gone. It also results in the involuntary loss of large amounts of urine. Both SUI and Urge Incontinence are often chalked up to the aging process and brushed aside in women. However, these are sometimes real signs of a pelvic floor disorder and need to be addressed.
Not sure if this is you? Take our bladder quiz.
Fecal Incontinence: Fecal incontinence is the lack of bowel control. As the pelvic floor muscles weaken their ability to support the rectum and anus is compromised. Fecal incontinence strongly affects quality of life. Further, it leads to higher risk of skin infection.
Organ Prolapse: Organs supported by the pelvic floor can actually bulge or descend into the vagina. Most commonly, these are the uterus, bladder and rectum.
Treatments for Pelvic Floor Disorders
The pelvic floor responds to many types of treatments. These include biofeedback, physical therapy, pelvic floor retraining and ongoing education through a variety of modalities. Dr. Russo has a team of physical therapists who are specially trained in pelvic floor rehabilitation and training. Based at Athletico Physical Therapy, her team will assess your pelvic floor function and design a treatment plan that is the best fit for your life and goals.
Support for the whole woman: don’t resign yourself to poor quality of life. Pelvic floor disorders are real and treatable. Contact Inner Beauty today for your private consultation.