What Causes Pelvic Floor Disorders?

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Men and women have a pelvic floor; however, they function in slightly different ways. In women, the pelvic floor supports the uterus, bladder, vagina, and rectum. Women may be more likely to experience pelvic floor dysfunction than men due to childbirth; however, there are many other causes of pelvic floor dysfunction. 
 
Kerin Cook, physical therapist with Davis Hospital and Medical Center, explains more about pelvic floor disorders and their causes. 
 
What are pelvic floor disorders?
 Some pelvic floor disorders occur when the pelvic “sling” becomes weak or damaged and cannot support the pelvic organs. In other cases, the muscles of the pelvic floor become overly tight or contracted, which can lead to pain. Examples of pelvic floor dysfunction include:
 
– Pelvic organ prolapse: when the uterus, bladder or bowels drop into the vagina, causing a bulge in the vaginal cavity
– Urinary incontinence: weak bladder control
– Difficulty emptying the bladder
– Fecal incontinence: weak bowel control
– Constipation
– Pelvic or vaginal pain
– Painful intercourse
 
Common causes of pelvic floor disorders
Some pelvic floor disorders are caused by weakened pelvic muscles or tears in the connective tissue and others are caused by overactive or tight muscles. Some examples are:
– Childbirth: most common cause
– Repeated heavy lifting or straining
– Obesity 
– Pelvic surgery, radiation treatments or trauma 
– Chronic stress
 
Possible symptoms of a pelvic floor disorder
– Pain, burning or pressure in the vagina, pelvis or rectum 
– Urinary urgency, frequency or incontinence
– Painful urination or incomplete emptying of the bladder 
– Constipation or pain during bowel movements
– Bulge in the vagina or rectum
– Painful intercourse
 
Treatment options
– Physical therapy 
– Lifestyle changes
– Medical management

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