What Is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and other tissues that form a sling or hammock-like shape from the pubic bone to the tailbone. Muscles of the pelvic floor support and interact with the abdominal and pelvic organs, helping control bladder, bowel and sexual activity. For example, urination involves relaxation of these muscles while the bladder contracts.
Problems can occur when these muscles become weak or tight and do not correctly interact with the pelvic organs. The resulting condition is called pelvic floor dysfunction and it can have a significant effect on a woman’s quality of life.
Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
The symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction can vary significantly depending on which area of the muscle complex is affected. They can include:
- Difficulty initiating the urine stream
- Starting and stopping of the urine stream
- Straining or pain with urination
- Sensation of incomplete bladder emptying or the sensation of needing to urinate almost immediately after urinating
- Frequent daytime voiding
- Pain with orgasm
- Pain with vaginal penetration (superficial and/or deep)
- Increased discomfort when sitting for long intervals
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Lower back pain
Some patients experience just one symptom, while others may have a combination of two or more.
Physical Therapy for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Internal and external manual therapy techniques comprise one of the treatment options for pelvic floor dysfunction and resulting pelvic pain. A therapist skilled in treating the pelvic floor can help women achieve pain relief and improved function, and instruct them in self-management techniques.