Pelvic Floor Pressure Causes
The main function of the pelvic floor is to support to bladder, rectum, uterus, and abdominal organs. Problems affecting the pelvic area are not uncommon. Studies show at least one-quarter of women in the United States experience pelvic floor disorders. Pressure in the pelvic floor is one of these problems, and it can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. Why does it happen? Read on to learn more about pelvic floor pressure causes and other useful info about this problem.
What does pelvic floor pressure feel like?
Pressure in the pelvic area may feel like heaviness or fullness in this area. The exact symptoms of pressure on the pelvic floor may vary from one person to another and the problems that cause it. Sometimes, a person may experience difficulties with bowel movements or pain during sexual intercourse.
What causes pelvic floor pressure?
Pelvic floor pressure is an uncomfortable problem, and it may occur due to several reasons. Below, you can take a look at the most common causes of this pelvic floor problem.
Chronic constipation or straining with bowel movements
Infrequent bowel movement, or chronic constipation, is defined as experiencing difficulty passing stools for several weeks or longer. A person with constipation passes fewer than three stools a week but may also experience other symptoms like lumpy or hard stools.
About 50% of persons with chronic constipation experience problems with pelvic floor muscles. People with constipation also strain with bowel movements. When the problem becomes chronic, pelvic floor pressure may occur. Why? Chronic constipation and straining can weaken pelvic floor muscles. Excessive stress on pelvic floor muscles and organs can also occur. These problems can cause the feeling of pressure in the affected area.
Chronic cough or bronchitis
Chronic cough is a type of cough that lasts longer than four weeks in children and eight weeks in adults. The most common causes of chronic cough are allergies, asthma, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and bronchitis.
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi, the tubes that lead to the lungs. People with bronchitis tend to cough, produce mucus, and experience symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath.
Chronic coughing can, over time, damage the pelvic floor. While at first glance, it may seem like chronic cough or bronchitis has nothing to do with the pelvic area, it does. You see, when we breathe in, our diaphragm contracts down. Since the pelvic floor area is stretched, it reacts by bulging down. On the other hand, breathing out causes relaxation of the diaphragm. As a result, the diaphragm goes back up, and the pelvic area follows.
In other words, the pelvic floor rises, and when you exhale, it falls. When you cough, the diaphragm reacts by strongly descending. As a result, it forms pressure on the pelvic floor. Chronic cough and bronchitis amplify these effects and form more pressure on the pelvic area.
Repeated heavy lifting
We are often told to avoid heavy lifting in order to protect the pelvic floor. Those warnings aren’t untrue, actually. Repeated heavy lifting can, indeed, put pressure on the pelvic area and cause problems in this region.
When you lift something heavy, the pressure on the pelvic floor increases and may cause pelvic organ prolapse. Heavy objects put too much strain on your pelvis and weaken muscles in this area. The pressure you experience can not only lead to incontinence but also affects your athletic performance.
Keep in mind pelvic pressure due to repeated heavy lifting doesn’t happen in the gym only. It can happen in other situations where a person lifts heavy objects on a daily basis.
Being overweight or obese
Excess weight is associated with various health problems. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, and other conditions. But, carrying extra weight affects the pelvic area as well.
Overweight and obesity chronically stress the pelvic floor area. That happens due to increased intra-abdominal pressure and could lead to other problems such as stress incontinence.
Remember, the pelvic floor supports abdominal organs. In a person with a high BMI, the pelvic floor is “forced” to constantly support the heavier load. Excess body fat keeps pressing down onto the bladder and bowel but may also cause weakening of pelvic structures.
Heavy load on the pelvic area causes pressure that may, eventually, cause other pelvic problems.
How is pelvic floor pressure treated?
Feeling constant pressure on the pelvis can be uncomfortable. You may want to schedule an appointment to see a doctor. Your healthcare provider will perform a physical exam and potentially order a few tests to determine the problem or the cause behind increased pelvic floor pressure.
To relieve the pressure, you may need to:
- Avoid pushing or straining during bowel movements
- Strive to slim down to reduce the “load” on the pelvic area
- Practice yoga and stretching to relax pelvic floor muscles
- Take warm baths to relax muscles and improve blood circulation
- Be proactive about the management of chronic cough or bronchitis
- Consume high-fiber foods and drink plenty of fluids
- Avoid heavy lifting
- Perform Kegel exercises to support and strengthen weakened pelvic floor muscles
A healthy pelvic floor calls for a healthy lifestyle. Eat a well-balanced diet, strive to be physically active, and avoid (or stop) smoking. Simple lifestyle adjustments and doctors’ advice can help you relieve pressure on your pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor works hard to support our abdominal organs and other structures, but we tend to take it for granted. We don’t really think about the pelvic area until we experience problems such as pressure, heaviness, or fullness. Several causes lead to increased pelvic floor pressure, but the good news is they are largely manageable. Don’t forget to schedule an appointment to see your doctor and make simple lifestyle adjustments to alleviate pressure. Increased pelvic floor pressure isn’t something to ignore since it can be a sign or lead to more serious problems. Be proactive to improve your quality of life.