Perhaps these days, despite our somewhat open culture, there are some things that most women just do not discuss or like to discuss, not even with their doctors. Visit your local Walmart and you’d think that vanity is all but gone, yet when it comes to a variety of common health conditions, vanity rears its head and silences the tongues of so many women. That presents a problem for doctors, who only want to know what’s going on and how they can help.
One of those areas that seems to be little spoken of is collectively known as pelvic floor disorders, Yet, about 30% of women will experience one or more forms of pelvic floor disorders. Women who gave vaginal birth to their children and post-menopausal women are especially susceptible to pelvic floor disorders.
The pelvic floor is defined as:
“The pelvic floor is a term used to describe the muscles, ligaments, connective tissues and nerves that act like a hammock to support the organs of the pelvis—including the bladder and rectum and, for women, the uterus and vagina. The pelvic floor prevents these organs from falling down or out, and also plays an important role in making the organs function properly. It is responsible for closing the urethra and anal canal to maintain continence and signaling and controlling the bladder, rectum and colon when you need to go to the bathroom.”
What are pelvic floor disorders? Most sources define pelvic floor disorders as including: bladder pain, urinary incontinence, bowel incontinence, chronic constipation, pelvic organ prolapse, recurrent bladder infections, female sexual dysfunction and myofascial pain syndrome.
The Mayo Clinic defines myofascial pain syndrome as:
“In myofascial pain syndrome, pressure on sensitive points in your muscles (trigger points) causes pain in seemingly unrelated parts of your body. This is called referred pain.”
“Myofascial pain syndrome typically occurs after a muscle has been contracted repetitively. This can be caused by repetitive motions used in jobs or hobbies or by stress-related muscle tension.”
“While nearly everyone has experienced muscle tension pain, the discomfort associated with myofascial pain syndrome persists or worsens.”
While pelvic floor disorders can occur in men, they are far more common in women.
The five most common risk factors for developing a pelvic floor disorder are:
· Are over age 55
· Are overweight
· Have had a pelvic surgery in the past
· Have a connective tissue disorder
· Are a woman who is post-menopausal, vaginally delivered several children, experienced tears in the perineum or pelvic floor during childbirth.
Additionally, other factors that may contribute to developing pelvic floor disorders are diseases like diabetes & Parkinson’s, stroke, back injuries, spinal stenosis, surgery, radiation treatment of uterine, cervical or rectal cancer, heavy lifting, chronic coughing and frequent straining during bowel movements.
Doctors even say that some people are just born with weaker pelvic tissues and muscles, making them more prone to pelvic floor disorders.
If you’re not sure if you have a pelvic floor disorder, consider the following checklist:
___ Accidental bowel leakage
___ Bladder emptying problems
___ Bladder pain
___ Bowel emptying problems
___ Complications of previous surgery
___ Frequent or urgent urination
___ Painful intercourse
___ Pelvic pain
___ Problems with the vulva
___ Rectal prolapse
___ Recurrent bladder infections
___ Urinary leakage
___ Vaginal bulging
If you checked one or more of these checklist items, then please see your doctor. Most forms of pelvic disorders are treatable, but you need to be honest and open with your doctor. He or She is there to help you deal with these embarrassing conditions.
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