What is pelvic floor dysfunction?
Pelvic floor dysfunction is that the inability to regulate the muscles of your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is the group of muscles and ligaments in your pelvic region. The pelvic floor acts sort of a sling to support the organs in your pelvis — including the bladder, rectum, and uterus or prostate. Contracting and relaxing these muscles allows you to control your bowel movements, urination, and, for women particularly, sexual intercourse.
Pelvic floor dysfunction forces you to contract your muscles instead of relax them. As a result, you'll experience difficulty having a movement.
If left untreated, pelvic floor dysfunction can cause discomfort, long-term colon damage, or infection.
Pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms
There are a number of symptoms associated with pelvic floor dysfunction. If you are diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction, you may experience symptoms including:
Ø urinary issues, such as the urge to urinate or painful urination
Ø constipation or bowel strains
Ø lower back pain
Ø pain in the pelvic region, genitals, or rectum
Ø discomfort during sexual intercourse for women
Ø pressure in the pelvic region or rectum
Ø muscle spasms in the pelvis
What causes pelvic floor dysfunction?
While exact causes are still being researched, doctors can link pelvic floor dysfunction to conditions or events that weaken the pelvic muscles or tear connective tissue:
Ø traumatic injury to the pelvic region
Ø pelvic surgery
Ø nerve damage
It’s important not to self-diagnose your symptoms because they may indicate more serious conditions.
To make a diagnosis, your doctor will review your medical history and observe your symptoms. After the initial consultation, your doctor will perform a physical evaluation to see for muscle spasms or knots. They will also check for muscle weakness.
To check for pelvic muscle control and pelvic muscle contractions, your doctor may perform an indoor exam by placing a perineometer — alittle , sensing device — into your rectum or vagina.
A less invasive option involves placing electrodes on your perineum, the world between the scrotum and anus or vagina and anus, to work out if you'll contract and relax pelvic muscles.
Treating pelvic floor dysfunction
The goal for treating pelvic floor dysfunction is to relax the pelvic floor muscles to form bowel movements easier and to supply more control.
Kegel exercises, or similar techniques that require you to contract your muscles, will not help this condition. While surgery is an option, there are less invasive treatment options available.
A common treatment for this condition is biofeedback. This technique allows your therapist to watch how you relax or contract your pelvic muscles through special sensors. After observing your muscle activity, your therapist will tell you how to improve your coordination.
Other treatment options include:
Medication - Your doctor may prescribe a relaxant to assist with pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms. The relaxants can prevent your muscles from contracting.
Self-care - To reduce strain on your pelvic floor muscles, avoid pushing or straining when using the toilet . Relaxation techniques like yoga and stretching also can help to relax your pelvic floor muscles. Taking warm baths is another useful technique. Warm water improves blood circulation and relaxes the muscles.
Surgery - If your pelvic floor dysfunction is that the results of a rectal prolapse — a condition that causes the rectal tissue to fall under the anal opening — surgery will loosen the affected pelvic organs and cause them to relax.
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