Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common condition characterized by an inability to relax and coordinate pelvic floor muscles to urinate or have a bowel movement.
In normal conditions, the body tightens and relaxes its pelvic floor muscles to void urine and stools. However, in cases of pelvic floor dysfunction, the body keeps tightening these muscles instead of relaxing them, leading to increased tension and symptoms, such as:
- Straining to defecate or having trouble evacuating stools
- Incontinence (urine or stool leakage)
- A frequent urge to urinate
- Feeling a need to force out urine or stools
- Unsatisfactory urine or bowel movements
- A feeling of stopping and starting in the middle of urination
- Pain during urination
- Low backache with no other cause
- Unexplained pain in the pelvic region (genitals, anus, or lower abdomen)
- Pain during intercourse (women)
- Erectile dysfunction (men)
What is the pelvis?
The pelvis consists of the bladder, uterus (in women), prostate (in men), and rectum. The pelvic floor has a group of several supporting muscles in the floor (base) of the pelvis.
The muscles of the pelvic floor have three basic functions:
- Support of the pelvic organs and intraabdominal contents
- Contribute to the continence of urine and feces
- Contribute to the sexual functions of arousal and orgasm in all genders
What causes pelvic floor dysfunction?
The exact cause of pelvic floor dysfunction is unknown. A few of the known factors that may contribute to the condition include:
- Advancing age or aging
- Traumatic injuries to the pelvic area (an accident or a fall)
- Overuse of the pelvic muscles (visiting the bathroom too often or pushing too hard)
- Pelvic surgeries
- Being overweight or obesity
- Neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease
Pelvic floor dysfunction can be a hereditary (running in families) condition, but researchers are still looking into a potential genetic cause of the medical condition.
How is pelvic floor dysfunction diagnosed?
Apart from questions about your current symptoms and careful medical history analysis, the healthcare provider may recommend the following tests:
- Physical examination: To test for spasms, knots, or weakness in the pelvic muscles.
- Surface electrodes: A painless test to examine pelvic muscle control using electrodes (self-adhesive pads) that are placed on the skin.
- Anorectal manometry: A painless procedure to analyze pressure, muscle strength, and coordination of the anal sphincters.
- Defecating proctogram: A special video X-ray is used to record the movement of muscles after an enema of a thick liquid is administered.
- Uroflow test: A test to analyze the urine-emptying bladder capacity.
How do you treat pelvic floor dysfunction?
Pelvic floor dysfunction can be treated with the following treatments:
Noninvasive treatments for pelvic floor dysfunction
- Biofeedback: A physical therapist might use biofeedback (special sensors and video to monitor the pelvic floor muscles) to retrain pelvic muscles to improve muscle coordination.
- Pelvic floor physical therapy: Done simultaneously with biofeedback therapy, wherein specific exercises are taught to stretch muscles and improve coordination.
- Medications: Over-the-counter and prescription stool softeners help keep the stool soft and bowel movements regular.
- Relaxation techniques: A physical therapist might recommend meditation, warm baths, yoga, or acupuncture.
Minimally invasive procedures for pelvic floor dysfunction
- Transvaginal trigger-point injections: An anesthetic and steroid (anti-inflammatory) are injected directly into the spastic pelvic floor to significantly relieve symptoms.
- Pudendal nerve blocks: Under sedation, an anesthetic and steroid are injected into the pudendal nerve to decrease nerve irritation and pain.
- The Predicted 'Tripledemic' Is Here: Why Isn't There an RSV Vaccine?
- Frozen Stuffed Chicken Products & Microwave Ovens: A Recipe for Salmonella
- First FDA-Approved Fecal-Based Treatment Helps Fight a Tough Superbug
- Seizures Seem Tied to Faster Decline in People With Dementia
- Signs That COVID Infection Might Harm the Liver
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/14459-pelvic-floor-dysfunction
What To Know About Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-to-know-about-pelvic-floor-dysfunction
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559246/
Top What Are the Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Related Articles
Boost Digestive HealthUpset stomach? Some foods may be the culprits, and bad habits may be to blame. Treat your body right with these simple nutrition tips on how to deal with with diarrhea, gas, reflux, and more digestive ailments.
When Should I Be Concerned About Pelvic Pain During Pregnancy?Pelvic pain in pregnancy is a common issue that affects many women. Learn what causes pelvic pain in pregnancy, how doctors diagnose pelvic pain in pregnancy, and what you can do to treat pelvic pain in pregnancy. Pelvic pain is common in women and can have a variety of causes. Some of the possibilities include inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and endometriosis.
ConstipationConstipation is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week. Constipation usually is caused by the slow movement of stool through the colon. There are many causes of constipation including medications, poor bowel habits, low-fiber diets, laxative abuse, and hormonal disorders, and diseases primarily of other parts of the body that also affect the colon.
Constipation Myths and FactsConstipation results in fewer bowel movements. Laxatives, home remedies, and diet changes may bring constipation relief. Change habits that constipate you and adopt lifestyle changes to benefit your intestines and bowel. Bloating and chronic constipation are relieved with the right medical treatments.
Constipation: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid QuizTake this quiz to find out what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid to prevent or relieve constipation.
How Often Should a Woman Get a Pelvic Exam and Pap Test?A pelvic exam and Pap test are cancer prevention screenings performed during a visit to your gynecologist to check for abnormalities or gynecological cancers. How often a woman should get a pelvic exam and a pap test depends on her age and medical history.
What Is a Pelvic Exam?A pelvic exam is a routine exam for women. Physicians use a pelvic exam to look for conditions in particular organs of a woman's body including the genital organs, uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, ovaries, bladder, and rectum. Pelvic exams can evaluate several conditions. Some of these conditions include sexually-transmitted infections, such as gonorrhea, syphilis, Trichomonas, human papillomavirus, and Chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, abnormal uterine bleeding, fibroid tumors, ovarian cysts, infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome, rectal bleeding, and endometriosis.
Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) QuizWhat are risk factors for pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and how is it spread? Take this quiz to test your knowledge of this condition.
Can You Have a Pelvic Inflammatory Disease Without Having an STD?In about 10% of cases, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) may occur without having an STD. The majority of PID is sexually transmitted. The most common causative microorganisms of PID are sexually transmitted and include gonorrhea, chlamydia, trichomonas and mycoplasma.
Pelvic Pain (in Women and Men)
Pelvic pain is described as pain, usually in the lower pelvic area. Causes of acute and chronic pelvic pain in women include endometriosis, ectopic pregnancy, miscarriage, menstrual cramps, ovarian cysts, tumors, or fibroids, ovulation, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) or congestion syndrome, vulva pain, and rarely cancer. Pelvic pain during pregnancy may be caused by miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy (tubal pregnancy), preterm or premature labor, and placental abruption. Causes of pelvic pain in men include prostate problems, testicular pain, and groin pain. Causes of pelvic pain in men and women include kidney stones, appendicitis, UTIs, IBD, and STDs.
Signs and symptoms associated with pelvic pain depend on the cause, but man include pain during or after sexual intercourse, abdominal pain, distension, and tenderness, diarrhea, constipation, vaginal discharge or bleeding, blood, pus, in the urine, cloudy urine, blood in the stool, stool color changes, and low back pain. The cause of pelvic pain is diagnosed by a physical exam, blood tests, and imaging procedures. Treatment for pelvic pain depends on the cause.
Incontinence in MenMale urinary incontinence has a variety of causes and treatments. Learn about bladder incontinence surgeries, medications for male incontinence, and how prostate health is linked to urges and leaks. Understand common types like stress and urge incontinence.
Incontinence in WomenUrinary incontinence in women is a common problem. Overactive bladder (OAB), stress incontinence, and urge incontinence can be treated. Learn more about the types of urinary incontinence, their symptoms, and treatment options.
Urinary Incontinence Products for MenThere are many types of urinary incontinence (UI), which is the accidental leakage of urine. These types include stress incontinence, urge incontinence, and overflow incontinence. Urinary incontinence in men may be caused by prostate or nerve problems. Treatment depends upon the type and severity of the UI and the patient's lifestyle.
Urinary Incontinence QuizWhat is urinary incontinence and why do people develop it? Learn all you need to know with this quiz.
What Can Cause Pelvic Pain in Men?Anyone can experience pain in their pelvic region. Learn the causes and symptoms of pelvic pain, as well as what doctors do to diagnose and treat pelvic pain.
What Causes Anterior Pelvic Tilt?An anterior pelvic tilt is caused by the shortening of the hip flexors, which typically results from a sedentary lifestyle or poor posture.
What Is a Total Pelvic Exenteration?A pelvic exenteration is used when cancer has spread within the pelvis or has come back in the pelvis after other treatments. It is most often used to treat cervical cancer that has come back after treatment.