Are you concerned that you might have a weakened pelvic floor? Here are 6 of the most common symptoms you need to watch out for, and some options for treatment.
Weakened pelvic floor?
It’s a case of “don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.”
What is it, you ask? The pelvic floor, or, more specifically, the control of the pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, tissue, and ligaments at the base of your pelvis. They act as a sling or a hammock, supporting organs like the bladder, bowel, and uterus. In other words, the pelvic floor has an important job to do.
Many people — in fact, up to a quarter of women — will experience pelvic floor dysfunction at some point in their lives. The prevalence of these disorders increases with age.
Many causes contribute to this common condition, including complications from childbirth, an injury to the pelvis, obesity, previous pelvic surgeries, or simply getting older. Many times, the exact cause is unknown.
If you’re concerned you might have a weakened pelvic floor, here are six common symptoms to look for.
Leaking Urine or Incontinence
When you feel a sneeze coming on, do you get nervous that you may leak? This is a common symptom of a pelvic floor issue, and the severity can vary greatly from person to person. This symptom is more common in women in men and tends to get worse with age.
Leaking urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing, or exercise can be an indicator that something is wrong with the muscles controlling the bladder. The leaking can be a minor spotting, or it can be embarrassing uncontrollable wetting.
Make an appointment with your doctor if this is an ongoing issue for you.
Chronic, Radiating Pelvic Pain
Pain in the pelvis isn’t normal. A problem with your pelvic floor can manifest as chronic pain, diminishing your quality of life.
This pain may radiate throughout the entire pelvic region, and you may feel it in your lower back, genitals, abdomen, or rectum. If you’re frequently dealing with this type of pain, it’s best to see a doctor and determine the exact cause.
Pain During Vaginal Intercourse
The muscles that make up the pelvic floor are crucial to making vaginal intercourse enjoyable.
If these muscles are damaged, weakened, too tight, or otherwise dysfunctional, they can cause intercourse to become painful. In women, this is a common symptom of pelvic floor disorder or organ prolapse.
No matter your age, there’s no need to suffer from this. If you are experiencing pain during vaginal intercourse, a visit to a doctor is in order. There are many options that can help alleviate the problem.
Constantly Feeling the Need to Urinate (Or Not Making it There On Time)
Do you feel as though you always need to urinate, but are unable to go once you get to the toilet? Or, perhaps you occasionally have trouble getting to the bathroom in time. This is known as bladder incontinence, and, as you may know, it can be a frustrating and embarrassing problem to have.
Because of the pelvic floor’s role in supporting the bladder, these are both very common symptoms that warrant further investigation and care.
Bowel Issues, Leakage, or Constipation
Just like the bladder, the rectum is also supported by the pelvic floor.
Muscle or nerve damage in the pelvic floor can cause issues with bowel movements. You might experience a more frequent urge to go. You might also find yourself becoming constipated, needing to strain when defecating, or experience leakage when passing gas.
Women experience this symptom more often than men.
In some cases, patients might even experience fecal incontinence, a loss of control of the bowel. This is a symptom that can cause frustration, depression, and a loss of quality of life in many patients.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
If pelvic floor weakening or dysfunction exists, both women and men can experience pelvic organ prolapse.
Prolapse occurs when a pelvic organ (like the bladder or, in women, the vagina) “falls” downwards due to weakened muscles that are unable to support its weight. Prolapse can happen to both men and women.
This isn’t necessarily as medically serious as it might sound; however, prolapses can range in severity and can cause major discomfort and ongoing problems.
In women, the symptoms of a prolapse might be a feeling of pressure, dropping, or pulling in the vagina. Prolapse can also cause pain during sex and frequent bladder infections.
In men, a prolapse might cause a “bulge” in the rectum that creates a constant feeling of needing to have a bowel movement.
Options for Treating a Weakened Pelvic Floor
Living with a pelvic floor disorder can be frustrating, painful — even embarrassing. It can affect the overall quality of your life. The good news is that there are many treatment options available for this common issue.
Some patients can achieve great results using muscle strengthening techniques (Kegels). When done routinely and correctly, Kegels can provide improvement for many of the common symptoms.
There are also medications that can help with bowel issues or incontinence.
Surgery is generally the last resort. Luckily, new technology means there are many more options for surgeries now, including minimally invasive, robotic, or laparoscopic procedures that can greatly reduce recovery times.
Contact Us for Help
If you are one of the many women in the Houston, Texas or surrounding area suffering from any of the above-listed symptoms, we encourage you to reach out to our urogynecology, or UroGYN, practice today.
There are many ways to treat the symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor, and you might be surprised to learn of the treatments available that don’t require surgery.
Pelvic floor issues not only cause pain, but they can also cause embarrassment, frustration, and a loss of quality of life. There’s no reason to continue living with these problems. Contact us today, and we’ll work together to treat the issue so you can live without the worry.