Experiencing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Many people don’t think about their pelvic floor until something goes wrong—and by ‘something goes wrong’ we mean accidentally peeing a little when laughing or sneezing. Hey, it can happen to the best of us! But your pelvic floor is more important than you might think, and problems with it are not something you have to live with. Pelvic floor dysfunction is a real thing, and it can affect everything from your bladder to your sex life to your quality of life. Read on to learn more about the often-ignored symptoms, and find out what to expect from pelvic floor physiotherapy.
What is pelvic floor dysfunction?
During pregnancy, your body goes through some of the most dramatic changes it will ever experience. The process of surrogacy and giving birth puts immense strain on your muscles, ligaments, and joints—not to mention your emotions. One often-overlooked area that can be seriously affected by surrogacy and childbirth is the pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and tissues that support the uterus, bladder, and rectum. These muscles and tissues can be weakened or damaged during pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging and other factors like trauma. This condition is known as pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD). While PFD can be a very debilitating condition, there are treatments available that can help to improve symptoms.
The discomfort, pain and disruption of your daily life from pelvic floor function is not something you have to live with.
Causes and Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
The possible causes of pelvic floor dysfunction can be linked to conditions or events that weaken the pelvic muscles or the connective tissue:
- Traumatic injury to the pelvic region
- Pelvic surgery
Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction can include:
- Incontinence (leaking urine or feces)
- Urinary urgency
- Discomfort or pain during sex/intercourse
- Pressure or pain in the pelvic region, genitals, or rectum
- Prolapse (when organs drop from their normal position in the pelvis)
- Lower back pain
- Pelvic muscle spasms
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy
Many people don’t realize that the pelvic floor is an area of the body that can be treated. Far too often, the symptoms of PFD are brushed off as normal or common. The discomfort, pain and disruption of your daily life from pelvic floor function is not something you have to live with.
This is where seeking the help of a pelvic floor physiotherapist can become an integral part of your health. Medical history, as well as both an external and internal physical exam (with your consent), are involved in the evaluation of the pelvic floor. Your physiotherapist will be assessing overall health, muscle trigger points, strength and possible prolapse.
Treatment for each patient will vary depending on symptoms but a pelvic floor physiotherapy plan can include:
- Manual therapy (both internally and externally)
- Muscle re-education and coordination training
- Dietary changes
- Home exercise programs
- Pelvic floor biofeedback (helps to observe how the pelvic floor muscles work)
- Electrical feedback (low-voltage electrical current that helps coordinate the contractions of muscles; helps to reduce pain and muscle spasms)
It might feel embarrassing to discuss, but know that pelvic floor dysfunction is highly treatable and you do not have to continue to live with the symptoms. Do you have further questions about PFD? Connect with our expert Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist Jaclyn (@jaclynseebachpt) or speak with your doctor about your symptoms. While pelvic floor therapy might seem unusual and invasive, it is effective and patients often see success and enjoy an improved quality of life after treatment.