Key Points about Pelvic Floor Disease

  • Pelvic floor disease causes you to lose control over the muscles that support the bladder, rectum and uterus.
  • This condition can cause painful symptoms and complications, so it should be treated promptly.
  • Treatment for pelvic floor disease may include a combination of therapy, home care and, in some cases, surgery.

Overview

Pelvic floor disease occurs when a woman cannot control the muscles of her pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a group of muscles in your pelvic region and supports the bladder, rectum and uterus. Controlling the pelvic floor allows you to control bowel movements, urination and sexual intercourse. This condition is also known as pelvic floor disorder or pelvic floor dysfunction.

Pelvic floor disease causes 

While experts don’t yet know the exact cause of pelvic floor disease, they believe the following factors may play a role:

  • Childbirth
  • Nerve damage
  • Obesity
  • Pelvic surgery
  • Traumatic injury to the pelvic area

Pelvic floor disease risk factors

The following factors may increase your risk of developing pelvic floor disease:

  • Being obese
  • Having nerve damage to the pelvic area
  • Having suffered a traumatic injury to the pelvis
  • Having undergone childbirth
  • Having undergone pelvic surgery

Pelvic floor disease symptoms

Signs and symptoms of pelvic floor disease can include:

  • Constipation
  • Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Lower back pain
  • Muscle spasms in the pelvis
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvic area, genitals or rectum
  • Pain while urinating

Pelvic floor disease diagnosis

Your specialist will ask you questions about your symptoms and perform a complete physical exam of your pelvic area, including checking for muscle spasms, knots or weakness. As part of this exam, your specialist may insert a perineometer (small device) into your rectum or vagina to check for muscle control and contractions.

Pelvic floor disease treatment

Your specialist may recommend one or more of the following treatments for pelvic floor disorder:

  • Biofeedback sessions. Your specialist may recommend you work with a specially trained therapist to learn techniques to relax or contract your pelvic muscles.
  • Medication. Your specialist may prescribe a muscle relaxing medication to help your pelvic muscles relax, so you have more control over them.
  • Home care. Your specialist may recommend you try home care techniques to ease the symptoms of your pelvic floor disease. These techniques may include practicing yoga or stretching or taking warm baths.
  • Surgery. If your condition has been caused by a rectal prolapse (when the rectal tissues fall into the anus), you will likely need to undergo surgery to correct this underlying problem.

When should I seek care?

If you experience any of these symptoms, start by voicing your concerns and symptoms to your primary care provider. From there, your doctor may suggest seeing a women’s health provider for more specialized treatment.