How can I strengthen my pelvic floor muscles?
Pelvic floor dysfunction is the inability to control your pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor is the group of muscles and ligaments in the pelvic region. The pelvic floor acts as a sling to support the pelvic organs, which include the bladder, rectum, uterus, or prostate. You can control your bowel movements, urination, and, particularly for women, sexual intercourse by contracting and relaxing these muscles.
Pelvic floor dysfunction forces you to contract rather than relax your muscles. As a result, having a bowel movement may be difficult. Pelvic floor dysfunction, if left untreated, can cause discomfort, long-term colon damage, or infection.
Pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms
Pelvic floor dysfunction is associated with a variety of symptoms. If you have pelvic floor dysfunction, you may experience the following symptoms:
- constipation or bowel strains
- urinary issues, such as the urge to urinate or painful urination
- lower back pain
- discomfort during sexual intercourse for women
- pain in the pelvic region, genitals, or rectum
- pressure in the pelvic region or rectum
What is the root cause of pelvic floor dysfunction?
The precise causes of pelvic floor dysfunction are unknown. However, a few of the known factors are as follows:
- Injuries to the pelvic area as a result of a traumatic event (like a car accident)
- Excessive use of the pelvic muscles (such as going to the bathroom too frequently or pushing too hard) results in poor muscle coordination.
- Pelvic surgery
- Being overweight
- Advancing age
Does pregnancy cause pelvic floor dysfunction?
Pregnancy is one of the most common causes of pelvic floor dysfunction. After giving birth, many women experience pelvic floor dysfunction. During pregnancy, your pelvic floor muscles and tissues can become strained, especially if your labor is long or difficult.
Is pelvic floor dysfunction hereditary?
Pelvic floor dysfunction can be inherited. This is referred to as a hereditary condition. Researchers are investigating a possible genetic cause of pelvic floor dysfunction.
It is critical not to self-diagnose your symptoms, as they may indicate more serious problems.
Your doctor will examine your symptoms and review your medical history to make a diagnosis.
Following the initial consultation, your doctor will conduct a physical examination to look for muscle spasms or knots. They will also look for signs of muscle weakness.
Your doctor may perform an internal exam to check for pelvic muscle control and contractions by placing a perineometer — a small sensing device — into your rectum or vagina.
A less invasive option is to place electrodes on your perineum, the area between the scrotum and the anus or the vagina and the anus, to see if you can contract and relax pelvic muscles.
Is there a difference between men and women when it comes to pelvic floor dysfunction?
There are different pelvic conditions that affect men and women differently.
Male pelvic floor dysfunction:
- Millions of men worldwide suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction each year. Because the pelvic floor muscles are involved in both the waste (excretory) and reproductive systems during sex and urination, pelvic floor dysfunction can co-exist with a number of other male health issues, including:
- Male urinary dysfunction: This condition is characterized by leaking urine after peeing, rushing to the bathroom (incontinence), and other bladder and bowel issues.
- Erectile Dysfunction (ED): ED occurs when men are unable to obtain or maintain an erection during sex. Sometimes the cause is pelvic muscle tension or pain, but ED is a complex condition, so this is not always the case.
- Prostatitis: The symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction are similar to those of prostatitis, which is an infection or inflammation of the prostate. Prostatitis can be caused by a variety of factors, including bacteria, sexually transmitted infections, or nervous system trauma.
Women pelvic floor dysfunction:
Pelvic floor dysfunction, which affects the uterus and vagina, can interfere with a woman’s reproductive health. Women who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction may also experience other symptoms such as pain during sex.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is not the same as pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the muscles that hold a woman’s pelvic organs (uterus, rectum, and bladder) in place become overly stretched. Pelvic organ prolapse causes organs to protrude (stick out) of the vagina or rectum, necessitating women to push them back inside.
How is pelvic floor dysfunction treated?
Fortunately, in many cases, pelvic floor dysfunction can be treated relatively easily. If you require physical therapy, you will most likely feel better, but it may take several months of sessions. Pelvic floor dysfunction is treated non-surgically. Non-surgical treatments include the following:
• Biofeedback: The most common treatment, performed with the assistance of a physical therapist. Biofeedback is non-invasive and helps more than 75% of people with pelvic floor dysfunction. To retrain your muscles, your physical therapist may use biofeedback in a variety of ways. They may, for example, use special sensors and video to monitor your pelvic floor muscles as you relax or clench them. Your therapist will then provide feedback to you and work with you to improve your muscle coordination.
• Pelvic floor physical therapy: Physical therapy is frequently combined with biofeedback therapy. The therapist will assess which muscles in your lower back, pelvis, and pelvic floor are extremely tight and will teach you stretching exercises to improve your coordination.
• Medications: Taking daily medications to keep your bowel movements soft and regular is an important part of treating pelvic floor dysfunction. Some of these medications, such as stool softeners MiraLAX®, Colace®, Senna, or generic stool softeners, are available over-the-counter at pharmacies. Your primary care physician or a gastroenterologist can advise you on which medications will help keep your stools soft.
• Relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques such as meditation, warm baths, yoga, exercises, or acupuncture may also be recommended by your provider or physical therapist.
Who is responsible for treating pelvic floor dysfunction?
Your regular provider, a gynecologist, a physical therapist, a gastroenterologist, a pelvic pain anesthesiologist, or a pelvic floor surgeon may treat you depending on your symptoms and level of pain.
How Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy in Kearney, NE can help improve your pelvic health
Pelvic floor physical therapy improves muscle function while also correcting skeletal misalignment, which contributes to bladder and bowel control problems, sexual dysfunction, and pelvic pain.
A physical therapist who has received specialized training in pelvic floor health can address the muscle and nerve issues that frequently cause or worsen pelvic floor disorders. Your physical therapist will go over your medical and personal history, as well as discuss your symptoms during your first appointment, which usually lasts an hour.
The exam includes the spine, hip, and abdominal muscle wall assessments, as well as an internal pelvic floor muscle exam.
The gold standard for establishing a baseline of the pelvic floor muscles is a pelvic floor muscle examination. When you experience pain or discomfort, a physical therapist can identify the muscles that are causing the problem and assess their strength and coordination.
Following physical therapy sessions include education, exercises, and biofeedback, which uses sensors and electrodes to measure a patient’s muscle activity. Physical therapy can also help with muscle spasms, pain, and joint mobility.
Therapy will last four to six weeks, depending on the condition and how chronic it is. You are encouraged to continue physical therapy at home between sessions as long as it fits into your schedule.
GET IN TOUCH
Although pelvic floor dysfunction is a common condition, discussing your symptoms — particularly your bowel movements — can be embarrassing. The good news is that many symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction are easy to treat.
Contact Elite Health & Wellness in Kearney, NE today if you have any questions about pelvic floor dysfunction.