Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Women
What is Pelvic Floor?Prior to discussing Pelvic floor dysfunction, let us have a quick look at what actually is the Pelvic Floor.
The Pelvic Floor or pelvic diaphragm is the base of the pelvic region that is made up of muscle fibres of the levator ani (which is a broad thin muscle situated on the side of the pelvis), the coccygeus (the muscle of the pelvic wall located behind the levator ani and in front of the sacrospinous ligament) and some associated connective tissues that cover the entire area below the pelvis. Pelvic Floor are the muscles that contract during orgasm and assist in childbirth. If become weakened they can also be the cause of incontinence, lack of libido and difficulty climaxing during intercourse.
What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD)?When we speak of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, it covers a wide array of disorders that take place when muscles of the pelvic floor become feeble or stiff and stop functioning properly. It also occurs when there is some kind of an injury to the coccyx, sacroiliac joint, hip joints or lower back. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction also can take place when the sensitivity of the tissues surrounding the pelvic organs increases or decreases, resulting in severe pain in the pelvic region. On a number of occasions the fundamental cause of pelvic pain cannot be determined. PFD can be experienced by both women and men.
PFD often includes other clinical conditions such as Urinary Incontinence, Anal Incontinence and Pelvic Organ Prolapse amongst the most popular ones. Sexual dysfunction, loss of sexual appetite and difficulty to orgasm can be by-products of these conditions.
The statistics are actually shocking! Women do not like to discuss this issue and yet it is such a common occurrence. About 1 in 3 women are affected by at least one of these conditions. Besides, statistics show that 30 to 40 percent of women suffer from some degree of incontinence in their lifetime, most often after childbirth and post menopause, and that almost 10 percent of women will undergo surgery for urinary incontinence or vaginal or pelvic organ prolapse. Keep in mind that it is NOT natural to have it, and just because you are older or have it as a result of pregnancy, you do not have to suffer from it. Taking action is key, preventing the disorder is even better and it is not difficult. All it takes is just developing a few new habits, such as incorporating Kegels into your workout, using a Kegel device as an aid and doing regular Pelvic Core exercises.
The cause of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction:The first thing that needs to be taken into account while discussing the causes of PFD is that a wayward lifestyle is often responsible for PFD, obesity being one of these instances. Rigorous exercising and a commitment to a diet is the way to deal with that issue. Obesity puts too much pressure on the pelvis and can even lead to vaginal and uterine prolapse and surgery in the worst case.
Nevertheless, PFD in females can result from a number of issues. They may range from surgeries in the pelvic region to complications during pregnancy to genetics.
Menopause and several common chronic diseases like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Interstitial Cystitis or Endometriosis can also result in PFD. Inherited deficiency of collagen can be the cause of loss of elasticity of the Pelvic Muscles leading to weakness and dysfunction.
Some other common reasons of PFD are trauma, accidents, fracture to the tail bone and other reasons such as persistent poor postures, fragile core muscles etc. To correct posture and strengthen the core it is recommended to do Yoga, Pilates and Kama workouts.
Postpartum Pelvic Floor Dysfunction is the most common cause and affects women who have given birth. However it is believed that the pregnancy itself and not the delivery that is responsible for Incontinence, which results from PFD. A study was done to compare the after effects on pelvic floor of pregnancy and birth and compared mothers who had a C- Section with those who gave birth naturally. The results did not differ, suggesting that pregnancy is the cause.
Some conditions are reversible with pelvic floor exercises, or Kegel exercises recommended to strengthen the muscles. Kegel devices are also recommended to increase pelvic floor tone by stimulating muscle contractions with electrical impulses as well as aiding in properly performing Kegels. Click here to read more about Kegel exercises and Kegel devices.
Treating Pelvic Floor DysfunctionOne of the most popular ways of treating PFD is biofeedback, which is a specific physical therapy. With various biofeedback methods, a therapist can enhance the patient’s rectal sensation and coordination of pelvic floor muscles. Some therapists use a tiny dildo-like probe that is placed in the rectum or vagina, other use a number of electrodes that are stuck to the skin surface around the opening to the anus or around perineum and on the wall of the abdomen.
These gadgets can sense the contraction and relaxation of particular muscles and give doctor an idea of the severity of the PFD as well as improve the muscles function.
In other cases, the therapist massages the perineum or vaginal area internally, looking for trigger points which contract or shudder unusually. Upon location of the trigger-spots, the therapist gently exerts pressure to that particular area by massaging the spot. This method is called “Thiele stripping”.
Many women find having another person performing this procedure invasive and inconvenient. An alternative is performing a similar procedure yourself in the comfort on your own home. This is done with a specially designed Kegel exercise device which works in a similar fashion by stimulating the nerves and muscles, enhancing the blood flow in the region and strengthening the pelvic floor. Click here to learn more about Kegel device