We humans have a way of taking some amazing things for granted until they longer work for us as they once did. Case in point: The pelvic floor. Each of us has a powerful little “hammock” to support the internal structures of the pelvis including the bladder, rectum and in women, the uterus and vagina. For the most part, we rarely think about this part of our bodies and it’s intricate system of muscles, ligaments, nerves and connective tissue.
Disorders of the pelvic floor can present in both men and women, though they are seen much more frequently in the female population. The National Institute of Health reports that almost 25% of women suffer from pelvic floor disorders- that’s 1 in 4 women! Risk factors include giving birth, being overweight or obese and pelvic surgery or radiation.
Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include the following:
- Pain and/or pressure in either the vagina or rectum.
- Pain, urgency and/or frequency with urination.
- Constipation and/or difficulty passing stool.
- Muscle spasms in the pelvic region.
- Pain during sex.
Some people ask, “Aren’t these symptoms just a normal part of aging?”. The answer is “Definitely not!” Personally, I do not accept that pain and lack of function are normal or natural in any way. It’s okay for us to age gracefully!
Many women feel embarrassed to talk about these types of issues with their medical providers, though they are really quite common. Please don’t suffer needlessly. Help is available.