PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD) is a condition where the pelvic floor muscles are unable to tighten and/or relax properly. The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles and nerves that support the bladder, urethra, uterus, vagina, and rectum. As of 2018, it is estimated that up to 24% of women in the US experience PFD and this number can increase as women age.
Symptoms of PFD include difficulty with bowel movements, constipation, frequency and/or pain with urination, pain with sex, pelvic organ prolapse, and an overall general pain in the pelvic area. Stress incontinence (leaking urine during physical activities such as exercise), urge incontinence (the sudden and strong urge to go), and pelvic organ prolapse are some of the most common symptoms.
While sometimes the cause of PFD is unknown, injury to the pelvic area, vaginal childbirth, abdominal or pelvic surgery including hysterectomies, and even learned behavior such as poor posture and holding tension in the pelvic area can lead to PFD.
PFD can be hard to diagnose as the symptoms are similar to other issues, which is why it is important to talk with your doctor about all your symptoms. While surgery may be needed for a prolapse, other issues related to PFD have been shown to respond well to pelvic floor therapy. A physical therapist specially trained in pelvic floor therapy can offer both external and internal therapy, as well as exercises and relaxation techniques to help relax or strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Medications to help relax the muscles might be an additional option.
Talk with your doctor if you believe you may be suffering with PFD, because it is treatable and manageable with the right plan.