Pelvic Floor Disorder occurs in 1 in 4 women in the United States. The disorder is a result of the pelvic floor becoming weak due to stretching or damage to the tissues and ligaments. The cause of Pelvic Floor disorder can vary from woman to woman. The most common contributors to the disorder are; vaginal delivery, lack of estrogen, obesity and frequent straining or coughing. Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and certain types of cancer can also be the cause, while some women are just born with weak pelvic muscles.
Pelvic Floor Disorder can be broken down into five different categories; bladder dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapsed, pelvic pain and female sexual dysfunction.
Bladder Disorders: Bladder Disorders can usually be diagnosed when the urge to urinate occurs more frequently than eight times in a 24 hour period or when frequent accidents occur. Specifically, there are four types of bladder disorders:
- Stress urinary incontinence: Urinary incontinence occurs when urine leaks during physical activities or laughter.
- Urge incontinence or overactive bladder: This occurs when a sudden and strong urge to urinate occurs but you are unable to make it to the restroom and experience and accident or bladder leakage.
- Recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs): When you suffer from more than three UTI’s a year.
- Interstitial cystitis: This is a condition that results in recurring discomfort or pain in the bladder and the surrounding pelvic region. Symptoms usually include; pressure, tenderness and pain in the bladder and pelvic area. Symptoms can also include frequent urination, urgency or bladder irritation, as well as pain during intercourse.
Bowel Disorders: Having a bowel movement anywhere from three times a week to two times a day is considered normal for the average woman. Having frequent constipation, uncontrollable gas or an inability to control your bowels is not normal bowel function and is usually a sign that you are experiencing Pelvic Floor Disorder.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the pelvis organs fall out of place due to the supporting tissue being weakened. The most common symptom of this condition is a feeling of heaviness, pressure or bulging in the area of the vagina.
Pelvic Pain: Pelvic pain can be described as significant pain occurring in or near the bladder, uterus, vagina, vulva or rectum.
Female Sexual Dysfunction: Painful intercourse and vaginal dryness are often related to pelvic floor disorders. Other symptoms include a lack of sexual arousal as well as a decrease in or inability to have orgasms.
If you suffer from one or more of these symptoms, you should see your OB/GYN immediately. While some categories of Pelvic Floor Disorder can be treated with medication or behavioral modification, others may require surgery or physical therapy. The sooner you are diagnosed and begin a treatment plan for Pelvic Floor Disorder, the better your prognosis will be. So don’t hesitate, ladies. No one knows your body better than you do. If you sense that something just isn’t quite right, take some time for yourself and get it checked out.