What Causes Pelvic Floor Disorders?
The pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue may have stretched, weakened, or torn. These changes may be caused by:
- Pregnancy and vaginal childbirth
- Constant coughing (such as with bronchitis)
- Being overweight
Common Pelvic Floor DisordersExpand All Collapse All
Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine. You may leak urine, or you may not be able to hold urine until you can get to a bathroom.
Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) If you have SUI, urine leaks out of the bladder during activity. Symptoms of SUI include leaking when coughing, sneezing, or laughing. This may occur because muscles under the bladder are weak. It also sometimes happens in men for a time after prostate surgery.
Urge Incontinence Urge incontinence is also called an “overactive bladder.” With this type, the bladder feels full even when it’s almost empty. The main symptom is a sudden urge to urinate that can’t be controlled. The urge is felt often. This type can be caused by infection or by a nerve problem. It can also be caused by a growth in the bladder.
Overflow Incontinence With overflow incontinence, the bladder doesn’t empty when it should. It then gets very full. Urine may leak out in small amounts. Or the urge to urinate is felt often, but urine trickles instead of flowing freely. The bladder may never feel empty. Blockage of the opening to the bladder or the urethra may cause this type. Or it may be caused by nerve or muscle problems that stop the bladder from contracting.
Fecal incontinence is the loss of control over the bowels. Some people may have uncontrolled release of just gas and liquid stool. Others have no control over the release of solid waste. Women are more likely to suffer from this condition than men are. Many cases are a result of an injury to the pelvic floor. Read more about fecal incontinence.
The uterus is held in position by pelvic muscles, ligaments and other tissues. If the uterus drops out of its normal position, this is called prolapse. Prolapse is defined as a body part falling or slipping out of position. Prolapse happens when the pelvic muscles and connective tissues weaken. The uterus can slip to the extent that it drops partially into the vagina and creates a noticeable lump or bulge. This is called incomplete prolapse. Complete prolapse occurs when the uterus slips to such a degree that some uterine tissue is outside the vagina.
Pelvic prolapse may also involve sagging or slipping of other pelvic organs, including the bladder, the urethra which is the tube next to the vagina that allows urine to leave your body, and rectum.
Pelvic pain is located between the belly button and hips. If it lasts for six months or more it is called chronic pelvic pain. It is often difficult to figure out what is the source of the pain. Women with chronic pelvic pain can benefit from a full evaluation of the pelvic floor. Read more about chronic pelvic pain.
Female Sexual Dysfunction
Female sexual dysfunction refers to recurrent problems during any phase of the sexual response cycle (excitement, plateau, orgasm, resolution) that causes distress or negatively affects your relationship with your partner. Problems like pain during intercourse and vaginal dryness are often related to pelvic floor disorders. Read more about female sexual dysfunction.