Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
If you experience chronic pelvic pain or problems with the functions of your bladder, rectum, uterus or vagina, you may be suffering from pelvic floor disorder. Though you may not be familiar with the importance of the pelvic floor and the variety of issues that can result from dysfunction in that area, at Cosmetic Gynecology and Aesthetics, we can diagnose and treat pelvic floor disorders, restoring your confidence and quality of life.
PELVIC FLOOR DISORDERS
In women, the pelvic floor contains the nerves, muscles, ligaments and connective tissues that support the organs in your pelvis – the bladder, rectum, uterus and vagina. However, in many women, the pelvic floor becomes weak resulting in loss of support to the above organs. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health found that nearly 25 percent of women have a pelvic floor disorder, and it can affect anyone from age 20 on up.
It’s true that pelvic floor disorders become more common as women grow older (nearly half of women over 80 experience problems), but they are not necessarily a “normal” part of aging, and are certainly not something you just have to live with. Depending on the severity and symptoms, they can have a significant and negative impact on your everyday life, so it is important that women realize that these disorders are not only treatable, but in some cases, reversible.
TYPES OF PELVIC FLOOR DISORDERS AND ASSOCIATED SYMPTOMS
There are three main types of pelvic floor disorders, which occur when the “sling” that acts as a support for the pelvic organs begins to weaken or is damaged. The three disorders are:
Urinary incontinence (lack of bladder control)
Fecal incontinence (lack of bowel control)
Pelvic organ prolapse (in which the bladder, bowel and uterus may drop onto the vagina, causing a bulge in the vaginal canal
Because these disorders affect the uterus, bowel, bladder and vagina, you will most likely notice symptoms associated with these organs, including:
Problems with urination – urgency, pain, or the inability to completely empty the bladder
Bowel problems – constipation, pain or straining during bowel movements
Pain, pressure, feelings of heaviness, or a bulge in your rectum or vagina
Muscle spasms in the pelvic area
If you have one or more of the above problems, you may have a pelvic floor disorder. In most cases, more than one symptom will emerge, or you may start with one issue and the other symptomatic issues will follow.
PHYSICAL THERAPY TO TREAT PELVIC FLOOR DISORDERS
The good news is that even if you are suffering from symptoms caused by pelvic floor disorders, some symptoms can be treated and even eliminated without surgical intervention. At Cosmetic Gynecology and Aesthetics, we offer pelvic floor physical therapy, a treatment designed to strengthen and retrain your pelvic floor muscles. Seeing a physical therapist who is trained specifically in treating pelvic floor disorders can be beneficial in several ways, including helping you to understand the root cause of your symptoms and how to manage them, as well as providing treatment and a comprehensive program to help alleviate your pelvic issues.
If you choose to see a physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor disorders, you will come in for an initial evaluation, where we will first sit down and talk about your medical history and the problems you are experiencing as a result of your disorder. Our therapist will then perform an internal examination to assess the function and control of your pelvic floor, as well as look for sensitive nerves, tight muscles and pain trigger points. Pelvic floor disorders stem from underlying issues in nerves, joints, muscles or organs, and those issues affect the connective tissues in the pelvis. The blood flow in the connective tissues is diminished, and the tissues become sensitive and painful, causing movement to be difficult. The reduced pelvic mobility can then affect other parts of the body, continuing the vicious cycle of pain and related problems.
Once your evaluation is completed, your physical therapist will design a personalized treatment plan to address your specific areas of pain or dysfunction. For some, only a few sessions are required to provide relief, while others may require several weeks of therapy. Your therapist will typically concentrate on manipulating your connective tissue first, as loosening these tissues will increase blood flow to the pelvis, as well as help to identify other underlying pain triggers. Your therapy will evolve over time as your body responds to treatment – we want to ensure that your pain is alleviated as much as possible, while also restoring function.