Female Pelvic Floor Disorders
Pelvic floor disorders among women are alarmingly prevalent. Did you know that pelvic floor disorders affect approximately 10% of women ages 29-39, and it steadily climbs to a prevalence of 50% of women experiencing pelvic floor disorders by the age of 80? It can’t be stressed enough that while pelvic floor disorders become more common as women age, this is not a normal part of aging. Pelvic floor disorders can seriously impact your quality of life, but they don’t have to. Thankfully, these disorders can often be reversed or vastly improved with conservative treatment.
The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles and ligaments in the pelvic region which acts like a sling to support the organs in our pelvis. The pelvic floor is hidden from view; however, it can be trained and therefore strengthened just like any other muscle in our body. People living with pelvic floor disorders may experience symptoms such as urinary incontinence or constipation, including straining or pain during bowel movements. They may have pain or pressure in the pelvic region, a heavy feeling in the pelvis, or muscle spasms in the pelvis. So what causes these disorders? Common causes can include a weakened pelvic floor, which may or may not be due to childbirth, obesity, pelvic surgery, heavy lifting or straining due to chronic constipation, and even genetics.
So what can be done? The first step is to talk with your healthcare provider about your symptoms. The second step is to begin pelvic floor training with a physical therapist that has specialized training in this field. Research shows that up to 50% of women who try pelvic floor exercises by a pamphlet/handout do the techniques incorrectly, which can make their problem worse. For this reason, it is important to have a therapist to teach you the correct ways to retrain your pelvic floor. Evidence shows that when done correctly and taught by a physical therapist who specializes in these conditions, pelvic floor exercises are effective for treating many pelvic floor disorders. It is never too late to start training. There is evidence to support that older patients with incontinence are just as likely to see improvements from the exercises as younger people.
If you are a woman living with a pelvic floor disorder, talk to your healthcare provider today about pelvic floor physical therapy. You can learn more about how pelvic floor therapy can help you by visiting sandpointphysicaltherapy.com.