What is a pelvic floor?
I’ve never had a pelvic floor disorder and, admit, I knew little about what this even meant. I had a friend who mentioned a pelvic floor symptom in passing, but it wasn’t until I spoke to several other female clients that I realized pelvic floor issues were more problematic than I had previously realized. It may surprise you to know that 24% of US women suffer from one or more pelvic floor disorders, per the National Institute of Health. “The pelvic floor muscles are located between the tailbone (coccyx) and the pubic bone within the pelvis.”
So, what exactly is happening when we say, “pelvic floor disorder”?
The idea is that when the muscles of the pelvic floor stretch or get weakened overtime, they are less likely to hold up and support the pelvic organs. This can involve the bladder, uterus, urethra, vagina, small bowel, bladder, or rectum.
Why might this occur and what symptoms should I look out for?
Vaginal births can increase risk of pelvic floor disorders because of the overstretching and strain of pelvic floor muscles. Continual heavy lifting, chronic constipation straining, obesity, hysterectomy, and decreasing estrogen levels in menopause may also cause dysfunction. This can lead to lower back, pelvic, or vaginal pain. Every woman is different, but the most common symptom is urinary incontinence, an overactive bladder and leaking urine. Pelvic floor disorders may include vaginal atrophy when estrogen is on the decline and the walls of the vagina become thin, inflamed, and lack moisture. This may cause painful sex and increased UTI’s to occur. Perhaps the most problematic is the condition of pelvic organ prolapse. There may be a feeling of heaviness around your stomach or genitals. You may feel as though something has slipped down into your vaginal and you may even see a small bulge protrude out of it. The most common type is a dropped bladder into or out of the vagina (cystocele).
Are there treatment for these conditions?
The treatment will vary depending on the type of pelvic floor disorder you have. Vaginal hormone replacement creams can be used for vaginal atrophy. Some studies have shown pelvic floor and Kegel exercises to be useful in strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor in mild to moderate cases. It may be helpful to research a physiotherapist or medical doctor who specializes with this condition specifically, as to not exacerbate the problem. A pessary, a soft, flexible devise, may be prescribed and inserted into the vagina to hold organs into place. If all conservative measure fail, surgery may be a last option.
Can coaching help this condition?
Though coaching cannot physically change the structures of the pelvis, it is helpful in providing women with an outlet in which to discuss feelings of shame and embarrassment often associated with the condition. Coaching can also provide a plan, to weed out confusion about how to find relief and what actions you feel are best to take for your unique situation. Midlife changes can be scary and cause immense feelings of anxiety and worry. Worksheets can be a valuable tool, in helping you visualize what triggers and stresses are causing you the most grief and how to gain a positive mindset and strategy to deal with these and other life changing issues.
Urogynecology- University of Colorado, (2012-2021) “Menopause & Prolapse”, December 18, 2021. < https://urogyn.coloradowomenshealth.com/conditions/pelvic-floor-disorders/menopause-prolapse.html >
Better Health Channel, “Pelvic Floor”, December 18, 2021. Victoria State Government, Department of Health, and Australian Physiotherapy Association. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/pelvic-floor
Disclaimer: This blog is for educational purposes only.