Ladies, have you ever heard of something that affects more women than diabetes or heart issues? One in every three women has one, and one in every two women over the age of sixty has one. They are pelvic floor disorders. That is why this article will purely focus on what they are and how we can prevent them for better pelvic health.
What is Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor muscles are the basis of the muscular group known as the “core.” These muscles interact with the deeper abdomen (tummy), back muscles, and the diaphragm (breathing muscle) to support the spine and regulate abdominal pressure.
The pelvic floor muscles wrap around the pelvic bone like a hammock, providing extra protection for a number of internal organs. Several of these muscles form a sling supporting the rectum (anal). They include,
- The bladder.
- Uterus and vagina in (women) and prostate in (men).
- Rectum(the area where your body stores waste to expel).
- The bones that shield these organs are also known as the pelvic bone or pelvis.
These muscles allow you to control the release of urine and stools and to delay emptying until convenient. When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted, the vaginal, anus, and urethra openings are closed, and the internal organs of the pelvis are lifted. Letting the pelvic floor muscles relax allows waste products like urine and feces to be expelled.
Pelvic organs and floor play a huge role while childbirth as it is the main passage through which birth is given. Additionally, sexual health and function, such as arousal and orgasm, depend on these muscles’ activation.
Although the exact causes of pelvic floor dysfunction remain unknown, numerous variables are known to weaken the pelvic floor muscles.
- Aging causes physical changes. Hormones fluctuate, muscles change, and brain circuits don’t rebuild as quickly.
- Pelvic floor problems can arise for a number of different reasons. The most prevalent causes include getting older and having a family history of a certain disorder.
- Pregnancy, delivery, being overweight, chronic constipation, perimenopause, menopause, intense exercise, and advanced age are all factors.
Here are some of the most frequent health problems affecting pelvic organs, making them more prone to pelvic floor disorders.
1. Overeactive Bladder
A hyperactive bladder develops when the bladder’s muscles contract spontaneously. The involuntary contractions result in an immediate and frequent desire to urinate.
This need to urinate might be difficult to suppress in general.
A person who has this condition feels the need to urinate often during the day and may wake up (one or more) times in the middle of the night to urinate, owing to the heightened urge. This nighttime desire to urinate is known as nocturia.
2. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
A common disorder, pelvic floor dysfunction, is the inability to relax and regulate the pelvis muscles to urinate or have a bowel movement. These changes in your body are also felt by your pelvic floor as you get older.
Hormonal changes may cause the pelvic floor muscles to become less flexible or even tight. The body’s connective tissues stiffen and become less able to distribute the load. Constantly holding urination or straining during defecation are two examples of poor habits that add up over time and become problematic. As a result, all of these may play a role in the dysfunction of the pelvic floor.
About 50% of women are impacted by PFD throughout their reproductive years, according to some study.
There are a number of other potential causes for weakened pelvic floor muscles.
3. Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic Organ Prolapse is a potentially serious condition for women. This happens when the muscles and tissues of the pelvic floor become weakened. Any of the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, rectum) are forced to push into the vagina by the weak muscles. There are several forms of pelvic organ prolapse, depending on the compromised organ.
According to studies, approximately half of all postpartum women suffer from pelvic organ prolapse and urine incontinence. And nearly half of all women between the ages of 50 and 79 suffer from pelvic organ prolapse.
Most women with pelvic prolapse do not notice symptoms. But these are the signs of pelvic prolapse to look out for,
- Observing or sensing a vaginal protuberance
- Pain during walking
- A painful sensation of pressure in the vagina
- Inconvenient pressure during sex
- Difficulties putting tampons
- Leaking bladder
- Problems with bowel movements
|Pelvic Organ Prolapse||Pelvic Organ Dysfunction|
|Prolapse of the pelvic organs occurs when the muscles supporting the uterus, rectum, and bladder become excessively lax and stretched out, allowing the pelvic organs to protrude outside.||Pelvic organ dysfunction occurs when the organs inside the pelvic floor become too weak or too tight.|
4. Sexual Dysfunction.
Sexual dysfunction may be caused by pelvic floor dysfunction in both men and women.
Symptoms of sexual dysfunction in women may include decreased sex desire, unwillingness to engage in sexual activities, and discomfort during intercourse. One study that looked at the link between pelvic floor dysfunction and sexual life showed that it significantly reduced the mental, social, and sexual health of women.
But there is evidence that physical therapy can help with sexual dysfunction.
Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Issues.
If you suspect pelvic floor problems, keep an eye on the following symptoms,
- Back Pain: Consider the pelvic floor musculature a team that helps support the spine and pelvis. When a teammate isn’t pulling their weight, other muscle groups may experience increased tension. This might result in a worsening of low back pain.
- Urgency: Urgency is a sudden need to urinate or defecate without any prior warning. People with this condition frequently cannot hold their urination or bowels, and they may even experience leaks on their route to the restroom.
- Urinary Incontinence: Which is characterized by the inability to maintain bladder control when laughing, sneezing, coughing, exercising, or otherwise exerting the body. Learn more about what effects urinary incontinence can have on the body here.
- Painful Sex: Sexual discomfort may be an indication of pelvic floor dysfunction. One may experience lower drive or discomfort during sexual activity.
- Constant Pain: A continuous pain in the pelvic area, reproductive organs, or rectum, with or without passing gas.
Typically, your doctor will begin by questioning your symptoms about pelvic organ issues and getting a thorough medical history.
Your doctor may also do an internal exam by inserting a perineometer, a tiny detecting instrument, into your rectum or vagina to look for pelvic muscle control and pelvic muscle contractions.
Other tests include.
- Surface Electrodes. Using self-adhesive pads applied on the skin, pelvic muscle control may be evaluated. This may be possible if you do not wish to take an internal exam. However, it’s not a painful test.
- Uroflow test can indicate how efficiently a person can empty their bladder. If your urine flow is poor or if you need to stop and start when urinating, this may indicate pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Defectating Proctogram. A defecating proctogram uses a viscous liquid enema that shows up on an X-ray. Your doctor will take a video X-ray of your body as you try to discharge from your rectum. This shows how pelvic floor dysfunction influences bowel movements.
It is necessary to avoid self-diagnosis since symptoms may suggest more serious conditions.
How To Care & Treat Pelvic Health.
Taking care of your pelvic health is important to your overall health, but do you know why?
As women advance through their lives, their bodies undergo various changes. The pelvis is an often-overlooked part of the female anatomy. Changing the pelvic floor causes urinary incontinence in many forms. Luckily, women may take measures to adapt to these shifts and keep their pelvic floors healthy.
- Healthy Habits.
A healthy lifestyle can lower the likelihood of acquiring a pelvic floor problem as one age. Your doctor may advise you to consume a fiber-rich diet, exercise regularly, and quit smoking.
It has been suggested not to exert too much effort or stress when you have to use the toilet since this might place unneeded pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. Another beneficial technique is taking a hot bath to relax. Warm water improves circulation and relaxes aching muscles.
Your physician may prescribe a muscle relaxant to alleviate the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. Muscle relaxants might prevent the contraction of your muscles. Other medications that can be given are for constipation.
Laxatives are a widely used treatment for constipation. In contrast, research comparing the efficacy of biofeedback treatment and laxatives in constipation patients with pelvic floor coordination problems revealed that 80% of patients treated with biofeedback therapy saw symptom improvement, compared to 22% of patients who took laxatives.
- Exercises are a lifesaver.
Exercising is the most natural way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
Like any other muscle in the body, pelvic floor muscles may be strengthened and enhanced with regular, targeted exercise. There are many modifications to this exercise. But to perform a basic Kegel’s, follow these steps,
- Ensure that your bladder is empty before sitting or lying down.
- Contract the pelvic floor muscles. Hold tight and count for three to five seconds.
- Don’t hold your breath.
- Relax your muscles and count to three to five.
- Repeat five times.
When performing the exercises becomes routine, increasing the frequency to 10 times daily is recommended. Squeezing and holding the muscles for three seconds should be attempted when that becomes easier. Allow your muscles to relax in between squeezes for maximum effectiveness.
Three different starting positions are recommended for these exercises. Ten sets on the floor, 10 in chairs, and 10 on your feet.
Although many believe that the bridge is an excellent workout for the glutes, it can also assist in strengthening the pelvic floor, as proven by research. In this exercise, you will:
- Flatten your back on the ground while bending your legs to a 90-degree angle. Your feet should lie level on the ground, and your arms should be at your sides with your palms facing down.
- By tightening your glutes, pelvic floor, and hamstrings while pushing through your heels, you can elevate your hips off the ground.
- After a little pause, return to the initial position.
3. Bodyweight Squat.
Breathing-connected bodyweight squats can increase pelvic mobility while stretching and tightening the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles.
- Stance tall with your pelvis and your feet turned out slightly.
- Take a breath in and begin to hinge your hips, sitting back and squatting between your legs, knees tracking over your feet.
- Exhale and contract the gluteal and thigh muscles to assist you in standing back up.
- Repeat twice for 10 repetitions.
4. Squeeze and Release.
This exercise is a brisk “squeeze and release” movement that improves the reactivity of the pelvic floor muscles. To complete this exercise, one must:
- Find a comfortable place to sit.
- Picture the abdominal floor muscles.
- Compress the muscles as rapidly as possible and release without straining to maintain the contraction.
- Pause for 3 to 5 seconds.
- Perform the motion 10 to 20 times.
- Repeat the workout twice in a day.
5. Relaxing a Pelvic floor.
Women who require assistance with pelvic floor relaxation may also benefit from working with a physical therapist. The physiotherapist may teach the client pelvic floor relaxation exercises and deep breathing methods. Urinary urgency, frequency, and the feeling of a partially empty bladder may improve with such activities leading to better pelvic health.
6. Muscle Retraining.
The pelvic floor, like any other muscle in your body, functions at its optimum when its muscles are strong and able to release completely after a full contraction. By building muscle in the pelvic floor, you can reduce strain on the bladder, bowels, and uterus.
Before beginning a regular pelvic floor muscle training regimen, it is essential to accurately identify your pelvic floor muscles. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can assist with this and ensure that you are appropriately activating these muscles.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help alleviate or even remove symptoms, letting you get back to the things you like doing.
Exercises to Avoid.
A person with a severely weak pelvic floor may find some exercises challenging. The workouts may further weaken the muscles, resulting in more incontinence. Until a person has completed many months of pelvic floor exercises, the following exercises should be avoided:
- Running, jumping, and other high-impact movements
- Lifting weights and heavy stuff.
Also, do not attempt to stop urinating in the middle of the flow to assess pelvic floor muscle control. This may lead to inadequate bladder emptying, raising the risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other urinary problems.
Muscle Retraining Regimen.
Sometimes, retraining habits can minimize and avoid leakage. This may require going to the restroom at predetermined intervals and/or utilizing urge suppression strategies to lessen urgency. Before beginning a regular pelvic floor muscle training regimen, it is essential to identify your pelvic floor muscles accurately. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can assist with this and ensure that you appropriately activate these muscles.
- Pelvic Organ Pesseries.
Women with prolapse and incontinence can occasionally support their pelvic organs using vaginal pessaries. When properly placed, these devices offer a risk-free, non-invasive option that allows one to carry on with normal activities without hindrance.
Depending on the condition, a physician may prescribe either a supporting or a space-filling pessary.
- BioFeedback Methods.
Biofeedback techniques can be performed manually, visually, or with a specific device. When a gadget is used, sensors detect muscle activity, and the collected data is shown on a screen. This is especially beneficial for those who have difficulties recognizing whether their pelvic floor muscles are relaxed or tensed. It has been proven to help 70-80% of pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Pelvic Floor Stimulation.
This approach likewise utilizes a device with specialized sensors but does not require the person to contract their muscles. Instead, the gadget produces a contraction by gradually stimulating the muscles. Typically, this is only suited for extremely weak muscles.
Pelvic floor dysfunction treatment often entails daily bowel or urinary medicines and pelvic floor physical therapy. Staying positive is important throughout therapy.
It has been found by the research that a healthy pelvic floor contributes to a better quality of life.
The majority of people should begin to see improvements between 2 to 6 weeks, although it may take longer to observe significant changes.
Surgery For Pelvic Floor Issue?
As a muscular issue, pelvic floor dysfunction cannot be surgically corrected. If other treatments, like as physical therapy or biofeedback, haven’t helped, your doctor may suggest seeing an expert in pain injections.
Pelvic floor repair is one of the most popular surgical procedures used to address prolapse symptoms in women.
Some women with uterine or pelvic organ prolapse require a hysterectomy, a surgical procedure in which the whole uterus is removed.
Pelvic health mainly impacts the quality of life for millions of women and is hard for women to talk about, even with their doctors. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Do not wait until the symptoms worsen before seeking treatment, as this condition won’t go away on its own. If there is a problem with bladder or bowel control, it is important to have a thorough evaluation. Following medical experts can be contacted for issues with your pelvic health.
- Urologists that specialize in the treatment of female and male urinary disorders
- Colorectal surgeons who give digestive tract surgery treatments
- Gastrointestinal physicians who treat the digestive system
- Specialist urogynecologists who treat women with pelvic floor diseases
- Physical therapists who utilize focused exercise and biofeedback to teach patients how to relax and regulate the movement of their pelvic floor muscles can help treat pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Pain management experts
In their lifetime, many women will have pelvic health issues. Discomfort, urine incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse can cause embarrassment, pain, and discomfort and affect routine activities. Even if these are common, you should not let them influence your daily life.