Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) is an umbrella term used to describe one or more of the following:

  • Inability to correctly contract the pelvic floor muscles
  • Inability to correctly relax the pelvic floor muscles
  • Inability to coordinate the pelvic floor muscles

Reasons for PFD can be numerous, ranging from pregnancy, childbirth, obesity, menopause, excessive straining from constipation, chronic coughing, surgery, or genetics. Pelvic floor dysfunction affects both males and females and can occur at any age.

What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

The pelvic floor is a sheet of muscle that holds important lower organs, such as the kidneys, the gastrointestinal tract, and the human body. Any failure of the pelvic floor affects these organ systems, specifically their functions, like urinating and defecating. The rhythmic contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor aid these functions. In the event of pelvic floor dysfunction, the patient may suffer from uncomfortable symptoms. Women are especially prone to pelvic floor dysfunction due to the strain put on the pelvic floor during pregnancy, vaginal birth, and cesarean sections.

The pelvic floor muscles support lower body organs and have passages like the anus, urethra and vagina. The pelvic floor helps hold these passages closed until they are directed by the body. People with normal pelvic floor function have no problem passing urine or having complete bowel movements. However, affected persons would have difficulties with voiding movements, and all body functions that employ pelvic floor muscles would be impacted. Common complaints include lower back pain, pelvic floor spasms, painful intercourse etc.

  • What is the Pelvic Floor?

    The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, tissue, and ligaments that support the bowel and bladder (as well as uterus in females). These muscles stretch from front to back and side-to-side in the lower part of the pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles contract and relax as needed for urination, bowel movements, and sex.

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  • Symptoms

    • Urinary and/or stool leakage
    • Frequency/Urgency To Urinate
    • Difficulty emptying bladder
    • Ongoing constipation
    • Pelvic organ prolapse or the feeling of bulging out of the vagina
    • Pain during sex
    • Pelvic pain
    • Lower back discomfort
    • Multiple symptoms listed above
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  • Diagnosis and Tests

    A doctor, pelvic floor physiotherapist or urologist will be able to diagnose pelvic floor dysfunction. They will ask you about your symptoms do a physical examination to evaluate your pelvic floor health. Expect questions about urinary frequency, struggles with constipation or pain you may be experiencing. Many professionals will also discuss lifestyle questions with you to get a better understanding of why your pelvic floor may be compromised.

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  • Management and Treatment

    Depending on your condition and which symptoms you are experiencing, treatment options may vary. A general practitioner may suggest:

    • Pelvic Floor Exercise Tools (Kegels)
    • Physiotherapy
    • Diet and lifestyle adjustments
      Prescription drugs
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  • Exercises

    Exercising can help with preventing and treating pelvic floor dysfunction. In addition to pelvic floor training, core exercises strengthen muscles that support your pelvic floor and the overall well-being of the body.

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