Preventing Pelvic Floor Disorders Can Improve a Woman’s Quality of Life

Prevention and Treatment Options Can Keep Women from Suffering in Silence

DAYTON, Ohio (September 5, 2019)1730331224Nearly one quarter of all women in the United States are currently affected by one or more pelvic floor disorders (PFD), according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

PFD is a general term which describes a weakening of the muscles, ligaments and tissues in the lowest part of the pelvis that provide crucial support to a woman’s organs, including the bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum.  Symptoms of PFD can vary from woman to woman, but some may include an increasing sense of pressure or fullness in the pelvic area, urinary incontinence, or difficulty with bowel movements.

“Even though PFD is a generic term, the symptoms are unique for each woman,” said Joel Metze, MD, a urogynecology specialist at Lifestages Centers for Women. “Symptoms for pelvic organ prolapse, for example, may include everything from feeling a kind of uncomfortable pressure in the vaginal or rectal area to difficulty moving the bowels or emptying the bladder. It may even include painful intercourse or a sensation of sitting on something that's not actually there.”

Prolapse, one manifestation of PFD, refers to a gradual collapse of the vaginal walls as they begin to move down from their natural position towards the opening of the vagina. Many factors can contribute to this condition as women age and muscles and tissues continue to become thinner over time. Contributors to PFD can include childbirth, excess weight gain, or physical activity that adds pressure to the abdomen, such as lifting heavy objects or straining during bowel movements.

“As our bodies age, our tissues begin to lose some of their natural elasticity and with that the ability to bounce back,” said Dr. Metze, who practices with Premier Physician Network.  “However, age doesn’t always offer the best explanation. Longstanding straining due to problems with constipation, for example, or a prolonged and difficult labor in childbirth can play a role in weakening the pelvic floor muscles. It’s no different than other joints or muscle groups in the body that can get weakened and worn out due to overuse or abuse because they might be forced to bear too much weight.”

PFD can have a significant impact upon a woman’s quality of life depending on the severity of her symptoms, as discomfort can limit physical activity such as exercise or sexual intercourse.  A woman’s sexual activity can be limited even if PFD isn’t causing pain or discomfort, primarily because it can sometimes have a negative impact upon the way she views her own body.

Dr. Metze says that women should not feel alone since the majority of females experience some form of PFD within their lifetimes. However, several things can be done to help prevent or lessen its impact:

Schedule annual visits – Women are encouraged to meet with their gynecologist on an annual basis, since routine exams can allow health care providers to detect physiological changes, and prescribe a course of treatment long before PFD symptoms even arise.

Practice Kegel exercises – Kegel muscle exercises refer to the voluntary tightening of pelvic floor muscles to strengthen them. These muscles are easily identified since they are the same ones that are used to stop the flow of urination in midstream.  Once these muscles have been identified, women should practice tightening and relaxing them three times per day at 10 to 15 repetitions per set.  A gynecologist is also able to provide a referral to a therapist who can help you do these exercises properly.

Avoid excess weight gain – Healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle not only contribute to a woman’s overall health, but also help them to maintain a healthy weight which places less stress on internal organs.

Eat more fiber— Consuming higher amounts of fiber will always be a natural byproduct of a healthful diet, which can lead to better bowel movements that will place less strain on a woman’s pelvic floor.

For more information about PFD or to find a Premier Physician Network physician near you, visit

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