A pelvic floor disorder has the potential to disrupt your life in many ways. The pelvic floor is a series of muscles and connective tissue that runs from the pubic bone to the bottom of the spine or the coccyx. It acts as a sling to support crucial organs like the bladder, bowels, and uterus. Furthermore, the contracting and relaxation of these muscles is vital for healthy bodily function.
Contrary to popular belief, pelvic floor dysfunction is not a rare occurrence. Issues can arise at any point during a woman’s life. While these issues usually aren’t life-threatening, they can have a debilitating effect on a woman’s quality of life. There are a few types of disorders. Here are the most common that affect women and their accompanying symptoms.
Urinary Incontinence Symptoms
Urinary incontinence is the most widespread pelvic floor disorder. It results in complete or partial loss of bladder control. When this occurs, the muscles that control the bladder valve weaken. Usually, the issue is that the pelvic floor muscles are unable to relax. Women may experience a loss of muscle coordination, preventing at-will urination and frequent accidents.
At first, symptoms can be as innocent as slight urine loss during a sneeze or cough. However, pelvic floor dysfunction can worsen and cause regular involuntary loss.
Symptoms of urinary incontinence can vary widely from one person to the next. However, they often include:
- A feeling of pressure on the bladder
- Frequent urination
- Difficulty urinating at will
- Accidents when laughing, coughing, or sneezing
- Urine loss or leakage
- Inability to empty bladder completely
Pelvic Organ Prolapse Symptoms
Pelvic organ prolapse is one of the more alarming forms of pelvic floor dysfunction. It occurs when the pelvic floor muscles and tissue weaken. The otherwise supportive sling can become thin or tear completely, resulting in the organs “falling” out of place.
Prolapse can cause significant discomfort for women. Not only that, but the standard function of the fallen organs become compromised. The organs can herniate into the vaginal wall, resulting in a visible bulge. It is a cystocele when the bladder herniates and a rectocele when the rectum herniates.
Some of the most common symptoms for this type of pelvic floor disorder include:
- Weighty feeling in the pubic area
- Dragging discomfort in the vagina
- Visible bulges in the vagina
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Difficulty with urination or bowel movement
Fecal incontinence is similar to urinary incontinence. The difference, however, is that this pelvic floor disorder involves a loss of bowel control. The pelvic floor muscles controlling the bowels and rectum do not perform efficiently, resulting in numerous problems.
Women can suffer from passive incontinence, which refers to the sudden passing of stool without any control. Or, they can suffer from urge-related incontinence. This form of pelvic floor dysfunction pertains to constant muscle contraction that prevents the passage of stool.
Fecal incontinence can affect women at any age. However, it’s most common in seniors and women recovering after childbirth. Some common symptoms include:
- Sudden accidents
- Periodic stool or mucus leakage
- Difficulty passing stool
- Chronic constipation
- Frequent bouts of diarrhea
Pelvic floor disorders can negatively impact your day-to-day life. But, they are highly treatable. Dr. Tahery is a practicing urogynecologist in Los Angeles. He can create a custom treatment plan to mitigate these disorders’ effects. Contact us today to schedule your consultation with Dr. Tahery, learn more about pelvic floor dysfunction, and address your symptoms once and for all.