Types of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

The pelvic floor – think of it as a sling made up of many muscles meant to support the rectum. With coordinated relaxing and contracting, these muscles guide bladder and bowel functions. Over one-third of women are dealing with at least a single pelvic floor disorder.

Pelvic floor dysfunctions (PFD) happen when there is either extra (high tone) tension or lack of (low tone) to the pelvic floor muscles. These problems put a strain on the pelvis, causing aches, constipation, incontinence, and more. In a study of 4,103 women, the pelvic floor disorder prevalence rate was 37%.

The individual prevalence of stress urinary incontinence was 15%, anal incontinence 25%, and pelvic organ prolapse 6%. But, due to the nature of the symptoms, PFD remains underrated and underreported. Here, we will shed some light on these growing issues so that you will have an easier time recognizing the problem.

Pelvic Floor – Covering the Basics

Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) comes with a range of anatomic changes and signs linked with abnormal pelvic function. This area has three primary functions. When everything is working smoothly, of course, these functions include:

  • Supporting the pelvic organs (prostate, vagina, urethra, bladder, rectum, and anus) alongside the intra-abdominal contents.
  • Fecal and urine continence.
  • Contributing your sex life through functions like orgasm and arousal.

Like any other muscle in the human body, a healthy pelvic floor must be strong and able to fully contract and relax. You can activate the pelvic floor at any place or time, allowing you to stop leaks when you are coughing or sneezing.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Types People Should Be Familiar With

If you take a look at the pelvic floor dysfunction statistics, you will notice that these issues are more common than people realize. Based on a cross-sectional analysis of 1,961 nonpregnant women in their 20s, the prevalence of at least a single pelvic floor disorder was 23.7%.

About 2.9% had pelvic organ prolapse, and 9.0% had periencing fecal incontinence. The odds of having a condition increase with age. Ranging from 9.7% for women between 20 and 39 years to a staggering 49.7% for those over 80.

When the “sling” is damaged or weakened, that’s when a PFD occurs. The three primary types of PFD include:

  • Pelvic organ prolapse – The moment the muscles and tissues can’t back up the pelvic organs, that’s when a drop (prolapse) happens. The pelvic organs move downwards from their natural position.
  • Anal incontinence – When the body can’t handle bowel movements, fecal incontinence causes unwanted stool leaks.
  • Urinary incontinence – The unintentional passing of urine is one of the most prevalent issues with PFD. If the bladder gets under pressure, it can’t hold the urine. This can happen when you laugh or cough.

What Does a PFD Feel Like?

Not the most comfortable of symptoms, but it is still a good idea to know what you are dealing with. PFD hinders your ability to coordinate the muscles of the pelvic floor. So, it is not uncommon for you to have stool or urine leaks, cramps, trouble pooing, or frequent needs to pee.

What Factors Drive Sudden Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Many people want to know why is my pelvic floor suddenly weak. There are several reasons, but it often boils down to a few things. These are childbirth, obesity, persistent (chronic) constipation, and treatment for prostate cancer. As you can see, these problems don’t happen suddenly. They are but a byproduct of continuous pressure to the pelvic area.

What Kind of Doctor Treats Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

A range of experts can alleviate these complications. Most of the time, patients need a team of specialists to obtain the best outcome. Depending on what’s causing the issues, doctors will suggest medication, biofeedback, and physical therapy for the pelvic floor.

For example, a specialist known as a urogynecologist specializes in treating female patients with disorders to the pelvic floor muscles. While a urologist offers care for urinary disorders in both male and female patients.

When a surgical procedure is necessary that involves the digestive system, colorectal surgeons can help. Otherwise, you will need to see a gastroenterologist, which specializes in treating the digestive system. Since physical therapy is the go-to choice for curbing pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms, you will most likely see a physical therapist.

They will suggest you perform exercises or pelvic floor dysfunction stretches to get your muscles back on track. If there is a need to rebuild damaged tissues, reconstructive and plastic surgeons will work on the pelvis. With coordinated care, you can alleviate complications and enhance the quality of life.

To further improve your quality of life and manage that pelvic floor weakness, experts suggest patients lose the extra fat and eat a nutrient-rich diet. The more veggies and fruits you munch on, alongside fiber and many minerals, your body can get all the support it needs and avoid feeling constipated.

Also, don’t forget to seek help when dealing with a chronic cough. Coughing is known to add pressure to these muscles. So, treating persistent coughing can help your pelvic muscles in the long run.

Should I Contact a Specialist?

Do you recognize any of these signs? Do you have trouble with constipation, incontinence, and overall pelvic floor function? Then, talk to your primary care doctor. Women can also consult with their gynecologists.

Start to take notes of when you started experiencing the bothersome signs that interfered with your bathroom use. Older women are more likely to get these disorders. But men can have them too. That’s why you should pay close attention to any changes in your body so that doctors can diagnose your ailment.

Final Thoughts

There is more to PFD than meets the eye. People tend to overlook the symptoms because they can be a little embarrassing. But, the sooner you manage the problem, the better your quality of life. So, don’t underestimate the pelvic floor weakness and get proper medical care. With on-time treatment, it is easier to enjoy a more productive life and overall sexual function. If these symptoms are bothering you, your primary care doctor can refer you to an adequate specialist.