Pelvic Floor Disorders
Pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) are a group of conditions that affect the pelvic floor. Both men and women have a pelvic floor. In women, the pelvic floor includes the muscles, ligaments, connective tissue and nerves in the lowest part of the pelvis (below the belly button) that support the bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum. In men, the pelvic floor includes the muscles, tissues and nerves that support the bladder, rectum and bowel.
A woman’s pelvic floor is designed to keep pelvic organs from falling down into her vagina or falling out of her vaginal canal. This dropping or falling of pelvic organs is known as pelvic organ prolapse and should be treated by a urogynecologist.
The pelvic floor also helps the organs function properly. A weak pelvic floor is a common problem for many women, often the result of pregnancy and childbirth. For men, common causes of weak pelvic floor muscles include surgery for prostate cancer, bladder or bowel problems, constipation, heavy lifting and more.
Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Disorders in Women
Pelvic floor disorders may present as:
- pressure or fullness in the pelvic area
- backache in the lower back
- pelvic pain or discomfort
- leakage or passage of urine or feces
- frequent or urgent urination
- difficulty urinating
- pain with intercourse
1 in 5 women suffers from pelvic floor disorders
Three main types of pelvic floor disorders in women:
What is Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence — the loss of bladder control — is a common and often embarrassing problem. The severity ranges from occasionally leaking urine when you cough or sneeze to having an urge to urinate that's so sudden and strong you don't get to a toilet in time.
Though it occurs more often as people get older, urinary incontinence isn't an inevitable consequence of aging. If urinary incontinence affects your daily activities, don't hesitate to see your doctor. For most people, simple lifestyle changes or medical treatment can ease discomfort or stop urinary incontinence.
Types of urinary incontinence include:
- Stress incontinence: You may leak urine during exercise, coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting heavy objects, or other movements that put pressure on the bladder. Of all the types, this is the most common type of incontinence.
- Urge incontinence: The need to urinate comes on very quickly. Often, you may not be able to get to a restroom in time. It’s common in people who have certain conditions, such as diabetes, stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. It’s more common in older adults and may be a sign of a urinary tract infection or an overactive bladder.
- Overflow incontinence: Leakage of small amounts of urine caused by an over-filled bladder. It may feel like you can’t fully empty your bladder.
- Functional incontinence: You have urine control, but can’t get to a restroom in time usually due to a mental or physical condition (e.g. you have arthritis, which makes it hard to unbutton your pants quickly enough).
- Mixed incontinence: A mix of more than one of the types listed above.
Urinary incontinence is a symptom, not a disease, and may be caused by everyday habits, underlying medical conditions or physical problems. A thorough evaluation by your doctor can help determine what's causing your incontinence.
What is Fecal Incontinence?
When you suffer from fecal incontinence it means you are not able to hold your feces, or stool, until you get to a toilet. There are many reasons for this, such as a case of diarrhea that strikes suddenly or damaged muscles or nerves within your rectum. Your rectum is the last section of your intestine. It controls bowel movements and signals when you need to go. Although it is not a normal part of getting older, you are more likely to have fecal incontinence as you age.
Fecal incontinence can be caused by a chronic illness, injury, or surgery, including:
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Large hemorrhoids
- Injuries or diseases of the spinal cord
- Congenital abnormalities
- Severe dementia
- Extensive inflammatory processes
- Obstetric injuries
- Operations involving division or dilation of the anal sphincters
Diagnosing Fecal Incontinence
To diagnose your problem, your doctor will consider:
- A physical exam
- Your overall health and medical history
- Your description of symptoms
- Imaging tests to check how the muscle, nerves and structure around your anus and rectum
Treating Fecal Incontinence
The treatment recommended for your fecal incontinence will depend on its cause. You might need to try more than one, or a combination of treatments, to manage fecal incontinence. Possible treatments include:
- Medicine: Prescription medicines may help control diarrhea or other illnesses or diseases that contribute to fecal incontinence. A high fiber diet is almost always recommended.
- Muscle training: Certain exercises can help strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor.
- Biofeedback: This clinical tool can help you learn to control your bowel movements.
- Electrical stimulation: Implants that cause small electronic pulses may be surgically placed near important nerves to help manage bowel movements.
- Anal plug: This removable device can make it easier for you to control when you go to the toilet. It is helpful for people who don’t mind the slight discomfort.
- Surgery: In some cases, surgery may improve your bowel function or fix a structural problem.
- Other methods: You may be given shots or a magnetic bead implant to tighten the sphincter.
If you’re experiencing any form of incontinence, call 567-585-0240
What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse
When the muscles and ligaments supporting a woman's pelvic organs weaken, the pelvic organs can drop lower in the pelvis or descend into or outside of the vaginal canal or anus. This is known as pelvic organ prolapse. Women most commonly develop pelvic organ prolapse years after childbirth, after a hysterectomy or after menopause.
Nearly half of all women ages 50 to 79 experience pelvic organ prolapse
There are various types of prolapse, depending on the organ that drops. You may hear them referred to as:
- Cystocele: A prolapse of the bladder into the vagina, the most common condition
- Urethrocele: A prolapse of the urethra (the tube that carries urine)
- Uterine prolapse: A prolapse of the uterus
- Vaginal vault prolapse: prolapse of the vagina
- Enterocele: Small bowel prolapse
- Rectocele: Rectum prolapse
Many women with prolapse have no symptoms. But if symptoms are present, they may include:
- Bulging in your vagina
- Needing to push organs back up into the vagina to empty the bladder or have a bowel movement
- Problems putting in tampons or vaginal applicators
- Feeling of heaviness, fullness, aching or pressure in your pelvis or lower abdomen
- Pelvic pressure that gets worse with standing, lifting, or coughing or as the day goes on
- Need to urinate often or urgently
- Inability to completely empty your bladder
- Uncontrolled Leakage of urine
- Frequent urinary tract infections
- Lower back pain
- Inability to pass stools without assistance of laxatives or manipulation
- Sexual dysfunction/pain during sex