Pelvic floor disorder (PFD) is a fairly common condition that affects both men and women of all ages. Unfortunately, it is vastly undertreated, leaving millions to struggle with life altering symptoms that can be addressed with appropriate medical treatment.
While no one looks forward to discussing problems such as: incontinence, sexual difficulties or pelvic organ prolapse, it’s important to note that these conditions can be successfully treated. It’s also important to note that pelvic floor disorders are not a normal part of the aging process.
When you are unable to control the muscles in your pelvic floor, this could effect your ability to have a bowel or bladder movement, it is called pelvic floor dysfunction. People with pelvic floor dysfunction contract these muscles rather than relax them. This interferes with the ability to have normal bowel or bladder control.
One in five people will suffer from a pelvic floor disorder during their lifetime. In fact, one-third of all women and 50 percent of women over the age of 55 are currently affected by a pelvic floor disorder. Researchers estimate almost 10 percent of these women will undergo surgery for urinary incontinence and conditions or pelvic organ prolapse during their lifetime. These conditions are not life threatening; however, if left untreated, they can negatively impact one’s lifestyle and potentially lead to additional pelvic floor disorders, and may cause severe depression.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and connective tissue in the pelvic area.
These muscles support the organs in your pelvis like a sling. The organs in this area include the bladder, vaginal cavity and uterus (women), prostate (men), and rectum (the area at the end of the large intestine where your body stores solid waste). Bowel movements and bladder emptying are controlled by contracting and relaxing these muscles.
Pelvic floor disorders occur when the supporting tissue within the pelvic floor is weakened or damaged. As a result of this weakness or damage, the muscles are not able to contract and relax normally which interferes with the body’s normal elimination process via the bowel or bladder.
The most common types of pelvic floor disorders include:
While pregnancy and childbirth are the main causes for women developing a pelvic floor disorder, men can also develop this condition. If the nerves or tissues within the pelvic floor are damaged as a result of surgery or radiation, it is more likely that someone will develop a pelvic floor disorder. Other causes include a history of lifting or moving heavy objects as well as heredity.
Multiple urinary conditions such as incontinence affects both men and women, for a variety of reasons. Conditions such as diabetes or a nerve disorder, childbirth or prostate surgery can be a catalyst for urinary incontinence. Different types of incontinence occur for different reasons, and in some cases the reasons are gender specific.
There are several causes for fecal conditions such as fecal incontinence including: nerve damage, bowel inflammatory conditions, impacted stool, physical damage, cognitive impairment and prolapsing hemorrhoids, just to name a few. For women, the main driver for developing fecal conditions is pregnancy due to the pressure on the rectum while pregnant or as a result of the labor and delivery.
People suffering from a pelvic floor disorder may experience the following symptoms:
While Pelvic Floor Disorders become more common with age, they should not be considered a “normal” part of aging. It’s important to note that 1 in 5 people will suffer from a pelvic floor disorder during their lifetime, however, they are underreported and most go untreated. While no one looks forward to discussing the potentially embarrassing symptoms associated with PFDs: urinary and fecal incontinence, sexual difficulties or pelvic organ prolapse – these disorders can be successfully treated. If left untreated, pelvic floor disorders can negatively impact one’s lifestyle and even cause depression.
Pelvic Floor Disorder can affect both men and women. Due to a woman’s unique anatomical structure and the fact that women’s pelvic floor may be weaker, women may be more inclined to develop a pelvic floor disorder in their lifetime. In fact, 25 percent of all women will develop a pelvic floor disorder, according to a National Institutes of Health study.
There are several available treatments for pelvic floor disorders, including non-surgical options as well as surgery. Here are the most common treatments:
The only way to ensure if you have a pelvic floor disorder and determine the best treatment options, please call our nurse navigator at (713) 704-4PFD(4733).
A Nurse Navigator will get to know you and your condition and can help with next steps regarding treatment options.