Pelvic Floor Disorders
St. Mary's is pleased to offer a Women's Therapy program dedicated to caring for women experiencing pain or dysfunction associated with a pelvic floor disorder. Care is provided in a private environment where patients can feel comfortable and safe, experience peace and focus on the renewal of body, mind and spirit.
WHAT ARE PELVIC FLOOR DISORDERS?
Just like we have muscles in our arms & legs, we have muscles in our pelvic area — the pelvic floor — that perform very important functions. If we stop and think about it, most of our major organs are supported by these muscles — so they obviously have a big job to do. Sometimes, these muscles are weakened or don’t function properly, which can result in symptoms like:
- Loss of bladder control -- Urinary incontinence is classified as the leakage of urine from the bladder. The amount of leakage may be large or small and may happen frequently or infrequently. There are also many different reasons for leakage, which include, but are not limited to, dietary factors, changes with aging, and pregnancy. Leakage may also be associated with the urge to urinate, laughing, coughing, sneezing, sudden movements, or exercise.
- Loss of bowel control -- Fecal incontinence is the leakage of contents from the bowel or rectum. “Accidents” may be uncontrollable and occur often or only occasionally. There are a number of causes of fecal incontinence including muscle damage, nerve damage, and changes associated with aging.
- Chronic pelvic pain -- Pelvic pain includes pain in and around the female genital organs, pain with intercourse or menstruation, pain of the coccyx or tailbone, and pain of internal structures such as the bladder. Causes of pelvic pain include, but are not limited to, increased or decreased mobility of the joints and soft tissues of the pelvis, traumatic accidents, pregnancy, childbirth, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and sexual abuse.
- Painful intercourse -- Vaginismus is vaginal tightness causing discomfort, burning, pain, penetration problems, or complete inability to have intercourse.
- Chronic constipation -- Failure of the pelvic floor and anal muscles to relax during straining can cause chronic constipation.
- The uncomfortable feeling that our ‘insides are falling out’ -- A prolapse can be described as a descent or “falling out” of the uterus, bladder, or colon. There are various stages or degrees of prolapse, and it may or may not be associated with symptoms of urinary incontinence. Genetics, activity level, pregnancy, weight, and muscle strength can all play a role in the occurrence of a prolapse. Mild to moderate degrees of prolapse can often be treated with physical therapy alone, and physical therapy treatment pre and post surgical intervention may help to improve long term outcomes.
While many of us focus attention on the muscles in our arms, legs or abs during workouts, we rarely pay attention to the very important pelvic floor muscles. Sometimes, we think we know what exercises can help improve these conditions, but, if we are doing them wrong or not using the right technique for our condition, we may be doing more harm than good.
WHAT CAUSES THEM?
I’m a healthy, active woman — I shouldn’t have this problem. We totally understand this feeling. But, many things outside of our general health & wellness can cause pelvic floor disorders, including:
- Problems of the reproductive system, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis and uterine fibroids
- Vaginal and cesarean delivery of a baby. Due to changes in their weight and hormones during pregnancy, many women experience back pain during and/or after pregnancy, temporary leakage of urine, and general weakness of the core and pelvic muscles.
- Scar tissue in the pelvic area after infection, delivery of a baby or surgery
- Diseases of the urinary tract or bowel
WHO HAS THEM?
You are more at risk if you:
- Delivered vaginally (increases with each delivery)
- Are overweight
- Are post-menopausal
- Experienced tearing or had an episiotomy during childbirth
- Had pelvic surgery in the past
- Had an intervention during delivery (like vacuum assistance or use of forceps)
THE GOOD NEWS
There are options for YOU as a woman who doesn’t want to live with the pain, embarrassment, loss of intimacy and loss of control over her life. And, surgery is not the only solution. Click here to find out about the treatment options that are available to you.