The pelvic floor is a muscular sheet that forms a hammock across the pelvis and supports the bladder, uterus, and rectum. The pelvic floor muscle plays a significant role in bowel and bladder control and sexual function. Frequently, dysfunction of the pelvic floor can occur as a result of overactivity, under activity of the muscles, or poor coordination of pelvic floor contraction.
There are many causes of pelvic floor dysfunction, these can include:
- trauma to pelvis
- multiple pregnancies and complicated labors such as forceps deliveries and episiotomy
- pelvic surgeries for instance a hysterectomy
- aging -enlarged prostate in men and decreased estrogen hormone levels in females
- post-radiation therapy or chemotherapy for pelvic organ cancer
- repetitive heavy lifting results in poor pressure regulation in the pelvic floor muscle
Pelvic floor dysfunction may have symptoms that include:
- constipation-straining in the passage of stool evacuation
- fecal or urinary incontinence: loss of bowel or bladder control
- painful intercourse
- reduced urinary stream and/or hesitancy of urination
- prolapse or bulge of the pelvic organs such as uterus, bladder, or bowel from its position resting into the vagina.
- feeling of incomplete bowel or bladder emptying
Management of pelvic floor dysfunction and physical therapy
Strengthening exercises: Improve the strength of underactive muscles and improve the symptoms of bladder and bowel incontinence and prevention of organ prolapse.
Relaxation techniques: Frequently the pelvic floor muscles are overactive which results in pain. Cues for relaxing the pelvic floor and surrounding back and hip muscles are important to consider.
Manual therapy: Hands-on techniques to improve hips and back mobility, tissue extensibility of the pelvic floor and a means to induce relaxation of the pelvic floor.
Biopsychosocial considerations: the treatment of the whole person is important when treating the pelvic floor. Addressing stress, anxiety, trauma and a heightened nervous system is integral in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction.
If you have any concerns or are suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction you are not alone. Both men and women can have pelvic floor issues. Please contact a pelvic floor specialist at Panther Sports Medicine to help you through this journey.