Facing, Treating Pelvic Floor Disorders Can Improve Your Quality Of Life

Pelvic floor disorders can feel very private and hard to talk about – even with your health care provider. But, talking about the issues can help give you a better quality of life.

“Pelvic floor disorder is a general term that would describe a variety of conditions that can affect vaginal walls and tissues, the bladder, the rectum, or even the top of the vagina, the apex, and anything (where) things are descending from their normal positions down toward the opening of the vagina,” says Joel Metze, MD, of Lifestages Centers for Women.

Aging is a main factor in the shifting of the pelvic floor muscles that hold the pelvic organs in place. The tissue weakens and loses some of its qualities, such as elasticity.

Chronic, longstanding straining from constipation can also lead to pelvic floor disorders. Genetics can be a factor in the condition, as can childbirth.

“Even a completely normal, healthy pregnancy and an easy delivery does probably result in some amount of pelvic floor trauma or damage,” Dr. Metze says. “Some pregnancy complications, such as long labors or operative deliveries, can potentially increase (risks).”

Feeling Different 

If you have a pelvic floor disorder, you might feel an uncomfortable bulge or pressure in the area of your vagina or rectum. You might feel pain or discomfort when exercising or being active, or just simply by sitting upright.

Another sign of a pelvic floor disorder is feeling pain during sexual intercourse.

For many of us, the physical changes that come along with a pelvic floor disorder can make sexual activity psychologically or emotionally uncomfortable.

“If there’s some kind of reservation or a little bit of insecurity, that can kind of spoil the whole sexual experience for the couple as well,” Dr. Metze says. “I would let the woman know she’s not alone. Knowledge is empowering because there’s things we can do about it.”

Having regular annual gynecological visits can help to recognize signs of pelvic floor disorder early.

Some treatment options for pelvic floor disorders could include:

  • Injections to help with bladder control
  • Medication to prevent loose stools or frequent bowel movements
  • Pelvic floor muscle training, in which you learn to squeeze and relax the pelvic floor muscles to improve their strength
  • Vaginal pessary, which is a plastic device inserted into the vagina to help support your pelvic organs and improve bladder control

Various types of surgeries are also available depending on your type of pelvic floor disorder. If surgery becomes your best treatment option, your health care provider can help determine which option is best for your situation.

To learn more about pelvic flood disorders, talk to your doctor or health care provider or search for a provider.

Source: Joel Metze, MD; Lifestages Centers for Women; National Institutes of Health; Constipation, Krames, 1/1/2019