Pelvic floor dysfunction is the inability to relax and properly coordinate pelvic floor muscles for a bowel movement. Symptoms include constipation, difficult defecation, urine or stool leakage, and a frequent need to urinate. Initial treatments include biofeedback, pelvic floor physiotherapy, and medications.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles located on the pelvic floor (just below your torso). Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common condition in which you cannot properly relax and coordinate the muscles in the pelvic floor for urination or a bowel movement, you may also feel pain during sex,
If we think of the pelvis as home to organs such as the bladder, uterus and the rectum, then the pelvic floor muscles are the foundation of that home. These muscles act as a support structure that keeps everything in place inside your body. Pelvic floor muscles provide support to many of your organs by wrapping around your pelvic bone. Some of these muscles add more stability by forming cords around the rectum.
Pelvic organs include:
- The bladder
- Uterus and vagina
- The rectum
Usually, you can go to the bathroom without a problem because your body tightens and relaxes the pelvic floor muscles. This is just like any other muscle function, such as pulling your biceps when you lift a heavy object or hold your fist. But if you have a pelvic floor dysfunction, your body keeps tightening these muscles instead of relaxing them properly.
It is important not to self-diagnose your symptoms because they may indicate more serious conditions. To make a diagnosis, your doctor will review your medical history and monitor your symptoms. After the initial consultation, your doctor will conduct a physical evaluation to check for muscle cramps or nodes. They will also check for muscle weakness.
To check pelvic muscle control and pelvic muscle contractions, your doctor may perform an internal examination by placing the perineum meter – a small sensor – in the rectum or vagina.
A less invasive option involves placing electrodes on your perineum, the area between the scrotum and anus or vagina and anus, to determine if you can contract and relax pelvic muscles.
The goal of treating pelvic floor dysfunction is to relax the pelvic floor muscles to make bowel movements easier and to provide more control.
Kegel exercises, or similar techniques that require you to contract your muscles, will not help this condition. While surgery is an option, there are less invasive treatment options available.
A common treatment for this condition is biofeedback. This technique allows your therapist to monitor how you relax or contract your pelvic muscles through special sensors. After observing your muscle activity, your therapist will tell you how to improve your coordination.
Other treatment options include:
Your doctor may prescribe a muscle relaxant to help with pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms. The relaxants can prevent your muscles from contracting.
To reduce strain on your pelvic floor muscles, avoid pushing or straining when using the bathroom. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and stretching can also help to relax your pelvic floor muscles. Taking warm baths is another useful technique. Warm water improves blood circulation and relaxes the muscles.
If your pelvic floor dysfunction is the result of rectal prolapse — a condition that causes the rectal tissue to fall into the anal opening — the surgery will loosen the affected pelvic organs and cause them to relax.
Although embarrassing or sometimes painful, pelvic floor dysfunction is a highly treatable condition. Talk with your doctor about your symptoms to get a proper diagnosis. There are several home remedies you can try before resorting to medication or surgery for treatment.
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