Having trouble making it to the bathroom or having pain during pregnancy, intercourse, or while emptying your bladder can indicate that you may have pelvic floor dysfunction. Understanding what this condition means is the first step, and can open the door to treatment to help you return to optimal life and live pain free.
What is pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is not one muscle, but a group of muscle that are connected to the pelvic bone and sacrum. The sacrum is the large bone located just above the tailbone at the bottom of your spine.
The group of pelvic floor muscles, which are attached to all sides of the pelvic bone, are used to provide essential support to the organs located in the pelvic area, like the uterus or prostate, bladder, and rectum. For women, the pelvic floor also provides support to the urethra, rectum and vagina.
What is pelvic floor dysfunction?
Pelvic floor dysfunction occurs when the muscles surrounding the pelvic bone are not working properly. They may be too tight, or they could be too weak. As a result, it requires the major organs in the area to adapt their function because of this. This can lead to a number of problems, like issues with going to the bathroom, such as incontinence or the inability to complete a bowel movement.
For men and women, it can lead to pain during intercourse or with arousal. During pregnancy and after childbirth, it is common for women to experience pelvic floor dysfunction as well. Actually, in France, all women participate in pelvic rehab after delivery to get their muscles back to normal.
How can it be treated?
A physical therapist (aka: muscle expert) can be seen to assess and treat pelvic floor dysfunction. The physical therapist will conduct an evaluation with you to determine where you may feel pain and the issues that you may have with your pelvic muscles and organs supported by these muscles. In Texas, a referral from your physician is required for physical therapy treatment.
Treatment depends on the condition, but it does include strengthening, stretching, relaxing, and coordination exercises. The physical therapist will help you learn how to fully and independently coordinate these muscle movements as well as work on your muscles and nerves to eliminate the origin of pain.