Just like we have muscles in our arms & legs, we have muscles in our pelvic area - the pelvic floor - that perform very important functions. Most of our major organs are supported by these muscles - so they obviously have a big job to do. Sometimes, these muscles are weakened or don't function properly, which can result in symptoms like:
Loss of bladder control - Urinary incontinence is classified as the leakage of urine from the bladder. The amount of leakage may be large or small and may happen frequently or infrequently. There are also many different reasons for leakage, which include, but are not limited to, dietary factors, changes with aging, and pregnancy. Leakage may also be associated with the urge to urinate, laughing, coughing, sneezing, sudden movements, or exercise.
Loss of bowel control - Fecal incontinence is the leakage of contents from the bowel or rectum. "Accidents" may be uncontrollable and occur often or only occasionally. There are a number of causes of fecal incontinence including muscle damage, nerve damage, and changes associated with aging.
Chronic pelvic pain - Pelvic pain includes pain in and around the female genital organs, pain with intercourse or menstruation, pain of the coccyx or tailbone, and pain of internal structures such as the bladder. Causes of pelvic pain include, but are not limited to, increased or decreased mobility of the joints and soft tissues of the pelvis, traumatic accidents, pregnancy, childbirth, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and sexual abuse.
Painful intercourse - Vaginismus is vaginal tightness causing discomfort, burning, pain, penetration problems or complete inability to have intercourse.
Chronic constipation - Failure of the pelvic floor and anal muscles to relax during straining can cause chronic constipation.
The uncomfortable feeling that our 'insides are falling out' - A prolapse can be described as a descent or "falling out" of the uterus, bladder or colon. There are various stages or degrees of prolapse, and it may or may not be associated with symptoms of urinary incontinence. Genetics, activity level, pregnancy, weight, and muscle strength can all play a role in the occurrence of a prolapse. Mild to moderate degrees of prolapse can often be treated with physical therapy alone, and physical therapy treatment pre and post-surgical intervention may help to improve long term outcomes.
I'm a healthy, active woman - I shouldn't have this problem. We totally understand this feeling. But, many things outside of our general health & wellness can cause pelvic floor disorders, including:
- Problems of the reproductive system, such as endometriosis, adenomyosis and uterine fibroids
- Vaginal and cesarean delivery of a baby.
- Due to changes in their weight and hormones during pregnancy, many women experience back pain during and/or after pregnancy, temporary leakage of urine and general weakness of the core and pelvic muscles.
- Scar tissue in the pelvic area after infection, delivery of a baby or surgery
- Diseases of the urinary tract or bowel
You are more at risk for a Pelvic Floor Disorder if you:
- Delivered a baby vaginally (increases with each delivery)
- Are overweight
- Are post-menopausal
- Experienced tearing or had an episiotomy during childbirth
- Had pelvic surgery in the past
- Had an intervention during delivery (like vacuum assistance or use of forceps)
This is where we start. Your provider may choose to refer you for a physician consultation or treatment with a physical therapist. You may also call the office for an appointment without a referral, and we will schedule you to see a physician for evaluation. Our physician will discuss your symptoms with you and determine the best course of treatment - from women’s physical therapy to other methods of treatment. Many women are surprised to learn they can be helped through non-surgical solutions, including:
- Patient education
- Relaxation Techniques
- Manual Therapy Techniques
- Biofeedback & Electrical Stimulation
Minimally Invasive Surgery
If during your evaluation, we determine that minimally invasive surgery is required to remove a growth, cyst or tumor that is causing your symptoms, St. Vincent has an extensive network of surgeons who utilize the latest minimally invasive techniques that will have you back on your feet quickly, so that you can get back to living your life. Learn more about Minimally Invasive Surgery.
Four Steps to Treating a Pelvic Floor Disorder
- Know that you are not alone.
- Call 812-469-8170 and schedule an evaluation.
- Attend an evaluation with one of our expert team members to discuss your symptoms and have a brief examination to determine your best course of treatment. Professional, compassionate, kind and discreet, the team at St. Vincent Women’s Pelvic Health Center will meet with you to discuss your specific symptoms and options for treatment. Our physicians, nurse practitioners, physical therapists and women’s psychologist offer a level of service not available in the region. They are very accessible to patients and truly committed to improving your quality of life.
- Begin your treatment and path to recovery.