The pelvic floor is a “hammock” of muscles that hold the bladder, bowels, vagina, and uterus in place. If those muscles are weakened or injured, pelvic health conditions like urinary incontinence, chronic pelvic pain, and painful sex can occur. These are a few things you should know about risk factors for pelvic floor conditions and their symptoms.
What Causes Pelvic Floor Conditions?
There are many risk factors that can impact the likelihood of women developing pelvic floor conditions. Some of these include:
Pregnancy and childbirth put intense pressure on the pelvic floor which can weaken the muscles, a condition called prolapse. Sometimes the muscles will heal and strengthen after childbirth, but they can be left permanently weakened.
Chronic Pressure on the Pelvis
Pregnancy is not the only thing that puts pressure on the pelvic area. Obesity, chronic constipation, and chronic coughing from health conditions or smoking can all create built-up pressure that weakens the pelvic floor muscles. At our office, we can recommend weight management for obesity and digestive health treatments for constipation.
Muscle laxity (loose muscles) occurs naturally with aging and it can affect women more severely during menopause. We can recommend bioidentical hormone replacement to ease menopausal symptoms like weight gain and loss of muscle mass.
Some women naturally have weaker tissues and bones. Congenital health conditions like Marfan syndrome, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, and osteogenesis imperfecta can naturally increase your risk of pelvic floor prolapse.
Women who have had previous surgeries to correct prolapse or a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) are more likely to have a pelvic floor condition.
Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Conditions
When the pelvic floor muscles are weakened, they are unable to constrict around the bladder and there is not enough support around the bowels or vaginal area. Because of this, the following symptoms can occur:
- Urinary leakage when coughing, sneezing, or laughing
- Uncontrollable or frequent urination
- Chronic constipation
- Pain during sex or when using the bathroom
- Severe pelvic cramps
Treatments for Pelvic Floor Conditions
When you schedule an appointment at Carnegie Women’s Health, one of our gynecologists will discuss your symptoms with you and suggest lifestyle changes at home before undergoing more intensive treatment. Diet changes, pelvic floor muscle therapy, and a pessary device that supports the pelvic organs from inside the vagina may be suggested.
If these at-home treatments do not work, we will refer you to a urogynecologist who specializes in pelvic health. Medications, surgery, and electrical stimulation (biofeedback) are possible treatment options that they can prescribe for your individual treatment plan.
Schedule an Appointment
If you’ve been suffering from symptoms of a pelvic floor condition, schedule an appointment right away so that we can help relieve your discomfort as soon as possible. Our team is dedicated to gynecological services and overall women’s wellness.