Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

The Problem

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD) is a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. There are approximately 50 million women in US and billions of women worldwide who suffer with this problem, yet only a small percentage of the most severely affected ever discuss it. If you have a pelvic problem and catch it early enough, you may be able to correct the problem without surgery.

The Cause

Pelvic floor dysfunction is usually the result of childbirth and occurs when the pelvic floor muscles are stretched and damaged during pregnancy and childbirth. There are other factors that can cause PFD such as aging and weight gain.

Signs of PFD

The pelvic floor muscles keep the bladder, vagina and uterus and rectum high in the pelvis where they belong. When the pelvic floor weakens, these organs slip down from their original positions: When the bladder falls you leak urine. When it affects the vagina, you may have decreased sensitivity, and at worse, your vagina and uterus can fall out of your body. When it's the rectum, the result is fecal incontinence.

Quality of Life

PFD disrupts a woman's quality of life by altering social interactions, causing loss of self-esteem and depression.PFD cost millions of dollars, in fact, PFD costs more than breast, ovarian, cervical and uterine cancer treatments combined. These conditions are often not discussed even amongst close family members. However, it can run in families and even if you don't have symptoms now, you may be prone to getting them in the future.

Wellness Check

Pelvic floor health, just like a pap smear and a mammogram should be part of a woman's routine wellness exam. Be proactive and bring it up during your next medical exam. With early diagnosis, these disorders are more easily treated. Most of these disorders can be prevented by strengthening your pelvic floor.

The Solution

Don't fret. Pelvic floor dysfunction is often both preventable and treatable. Most medical organizations recommend pelvic rehabilitation.

Take the Pelvic Health Quiz

If you are pregnant, you can possibly avoid PFD by starting pelvic health training early after childbirth. Ask your medical professional.

If you are not pregnant...

Symptoms

  1. Do you occasionally experience an involuntary loss of urine when exercising, laughing, coughing, heavy lifting or any activity where you physically exert yourself?
  2. Are you using pads or other forms of protection to absorb leakage?
  3. Do you feel a sudden need to urinate and can hardly make it to the bathroom on time?
  4. Do you have an involuntary loss of fecal material when straining?
  5. Do you feel a "ball" or an unusual "sensation" in your vaginal area?
  6. Has your partner ever said that they feel as if "you have something in there" (vaginal area)?
  7. Do you feel pain in your pelvic area?
  8. Have you ever leaked urine or feces during intercourse?
  9. Do you have to empty your bladder before intercourse for fear that you may leak urine during intercourse?
  10. Do you lack sensation during intercourse?
  11. Do you feel pain or discomfort from penetration during intercourse?

Check your answers on the following page & discuss them with a medical professional. Answers to the Pelvic Health Quiz

If you answer yes to 1 and/or 2
Diagnosis: You may have Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). The unintentional loss of urine caused by a physical activity, such as coughing, sneezing, or running among others.
If you answer yes to 3
Diagnosis: You may have Urge Incontinence (UI). Urination initiated by involuntary bladder spasms triggered by the sight, sound, or even thought of water or urination. The sudden need to urinate causes the spasm and the uncontrolled release of urine.
If you answer yes to 4
Diagnosis: You may have fecal incontinence. Lack of control of defecation.
If you answer yes to 5 and/or 6
Diagnosis: You may have Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) This is a condition in which the pelvic organs (cervix, vagina, bladder and rectum) descend from their original position. Feeling a ball or w eight may be the beginning stages of prolapse. In time, you may see a ball, the "cervix" coming out of the vagina. There are 4 stages of POP: Stages 1 & 2 – you may feel a ball or not feel anything at all. So how do you know? Ask your medical professional during a pelvic exam. Stages 3 & 4 – a structure coming out of the vagina.
If you answer yes to 7
Diagnosis: You may be suffering with Pelvic Pain Pa in perceived in the area of the pelvis, the lower part of the abdomen located between the hip bones. The term pelvic pain is mostly used in reference to pain from reproductive organs (uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries or vagina) in women. Pelvic pain can have numerous causes, including muscle spasms; menstrual cramps; pain from a rupture of an ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cyst, or other mass; endometriosis; and pelvic inflammatory disease.
If you answer yes to: 8 and/or 9
Diagnosis: You may have Coital Incontinence. The uncontrolled loss of urine or feces during sex.

If you answer yes to 10 and/or 11
Diagnosis: You may have Sexual Dysfunction. Sexual dysfunction is a disorder that interferes with sex. These disorders make it difficult for a person to enjoy or to have sexual intercourse. While sexual dysfunction rarely threatens physical health, it does affect quality of life. Sexual dysfunction can cause depression, anxiety, and feelings of inadequacy. The lack of sensation can be due to vaginal looseness from injury to the nerves. Pain may be due to the pelvic musculature being too tight (spasm).
Too loose- through pelvic training these muscles can be strengthened and sensation can be improved.
Too tight- through pelvic training and visualization you can teach yourself to relax your muscles.