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Pelvic Floor Muscle Dysfunction

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Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction often goes untreated as it is not easily identified. It is not just a woman’s disorder as it can affect men as well as children in some cases. Let us learn more about pelvic floor muscle dysfunction in the following paragraphs.

What Are Pelvic Floor Muscles?

Pelvic floor muscles are present in both men and women. These are a group of muscles, ligaments, connective tissues and nerves that support many lower body organs. In women, the pelvic floor supports the bladder, uterus, vagina and the rectum. In men, the muscles support the bladder, rectum and other pelvic organs.

These muscles are attached to the front, back and sides of the pelvic bone and sacrum. They form a large sling to support the organs. These muscles carry out coordinated contraction and relaxing movements that control the bladder and the bowel functions.

What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

When the pelvic floor muscles become weak or damaged, it leads to pelvic floor dysfunction. This leads to a number of problems related to urinary and bowel dysfunction. There are five types of pelvic floor disorders such as:

  • Bladder dysfunction –The lack of bladder control that leads to urinary incontinence.  Many women, often feel they need to rush to the bathroom even when they had already visited it 20 minutes ago. This affects their overall life as they cannot leave their house, especially when restrooms are not easily available.
  • Bowel dysfunction–Lack of bowel control that causes chronic constipation or inability to control gas or stool is a sign of abdominal pelvic floor dysfunction. This is often due to weakening or stretching of the muscles due to chronic diarrhea, hemorrhoids, chronic inflammation, or problems related to the pelvic floor muscle structure.
  • Pelvic organ prolapse – When the organs of the pelvis fall out of their original place, it leads to heaviness or bulging in the area of the vagina. In some serious cases, the tissue may protrude outside the vaginal opening.
  • Pelvic pain – Many women with pelvic floor dysfunction often suffer from pelvic pain. This pain can occur in the bladder, uterus, vagina, vulva or rectum. Some develop vulvodynia, chronic vulvar pain as well.
  • Female sexual dysfunction – Women often experience sexual problems such as pain during intercourse, dry vagina, etc. due to pelvic floor disorders.

Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

There are many signs of pelvic floor dysfunction. Some of these symptoms may be a sign of some other underlying health condition. However, one should speak to their physician and get themselves evaluated. Signs of pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • Frequent need and urgency to urinate. While urinating one may stop and go several times
  • Pain during urination
  • Feeling of having a bowel movement several times in a day
  • Feeling of undergoing incomplete bowel movement
  • Pain in lower back
  • Unexplained pain in the pelvic region, genitals or rectum
  • Painful intercourse in case of women

Causes of Pelvic Floor Muscle Dysfunction

One of the main reasons for pelvic floor muscle dysfunction is childbirth. The risk increases with multiple pregnancies. Overweight and obese women also suffer from pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. In some women, it is due to a genetic condition. Lifting heavy weights can also weaken pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.

Diagnosis of Pelvic Floor Muscle Dysfunction

The doctor will conduct a physical examination, take note of the complete medical history and ask all the symptoms experienced. The external and internal hands-on check up may be conducted to evaluate the pelvic floor’s muscle’s ability to contract and relax.

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The doctor will also check externally and internally for any problems related to the bones and muscles of the lower back, hips and sacroiliac joint. In case an internal examination is too painful, the doctor may use externally placed electrodes on the perineum or sacrum to see how well the muscles contract and relax.

A perineometer, a small device will be placed in the vagina or rectum to measure the contractions of the pelvic floor muscles. A defecating proctogram, is a special video X-ray is carried out to check the movement of the muscles attempting to push a thick enema liquid given from the rectum.

Treatment for Pelvic Floor Muscle Dysfunction

In most cases, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction can be treated without surgery. Many times, doctors may use the biofeedback approach. A series of test with the help of special sensors and videos is used to monitor the pelvic floor muscles relaxing and contracting. With the help of these reports the patient is helped to improve the muscle coordination.

Low-dose muscle relaxants may be given to help with the pelvic floor dysfunction. Relaxation techniques such as yoga, exercises, warm baths may help reduce the pelvic pain. In case of rectal prolapse or rectocele, surgery is the only option for treatment.

Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction is usually  a treatable condition that does not require surgery. Physical therapy and biofeedback has been always helpful in overcoming the condition. Speak to a physician and overcome this debilitating and embarrassing condition.

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: January 20, 2015