Women and Pelvic Floor Disorder

Nearly 24 percent of women in the United States are affected with one or more pelvic floor disorders (PFD). The frequency of pelvic floor disorders increases with age, affecting more than 40 percent of women from 60 to 79 years of age, and about 50 percent of women 80 and older.

What is the pelvic floor?

The “pelvic floor” refers to a group of muscles that attach to the front, back and sides of the pelvic bone and sacrum (large fused bone at the bottom of your spine, just above the tailbone). These muscles support the organs in the pelvis, including the bladder, uterus and rectum. Coordinated contracting and relaxing of these muscles control bowel and bladder functions.

Pelvic floor disorder results when the muscles and connective tissue within the pelvic cavity weaken or are injured. There are three main pelvic floor disorders:

  • Urinary incontinence – involuntary leakage of urine
  • Fecal incontinence – inability to control bowel movements, causing stool to leak from the rectum
  • Pelvic organ prolapse – occurs when pelvic organs such as the uterus, bladder and bowel collapse onto the vagina

It is important to know risk factors for pelvic floor disorder. These include:

  • Age
  • Obesity
  • Childbirth
  • Chronic constipation
  • Heavy lifting
  • Neurological conditions
  • Some chronic diseases

Symptoms of pelvic floor disorder include:

  • Urinary urgency, frequency, hesitancy, stopping and starting of urine stream, painful urination or incomplete emptying
  • Constipation, straining, pain with bowel movements, leaking stool when coughing or passing gas
  • Unexplained pain in the low back, pelvic region, genital area or rectum

It is important to notify your health care provider if you are having these symptoms.

Source: WomensHealth.gov

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