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The Importance of Pelvic Health During Pregnancy

Are you suffering from SUI Or Stress Urinary Incontinence? SUI is an involuntary leakage of urine when you are performing any physical activity that puts pressure on your abdomen. The activities could include performing exercises or doing something simple as coughing, sneezing, or even laughing hard.

A few other symptoms of a weak pelvic floor include recurrent UTIs (Urinary tract infections), reduced vaginal sensation, passing wind from the vagina or anus in event of lifting something heavy or even bending, and not being able to control your urine before reaching a toilet. If you experience similar symptoms, it is recommended to see a reputed healthcare professional who can conduct proper diagnosis such as pelvic imaging.

Now that we have covered some of the symptoms of pelvic pain, giving you an idea of what might be wrong. Before we talk about causes of pelvic pain, it’s crucial to understand the pelvic floor and how the proper function of the pelvic floor is crucial for your health.

A] What is Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor is regarded as the group of muscles in the floor or base of the pelvis – also known as the torso’s bottom. There are several reasons for pelvic pain that you need to understand.

The pelvis is regarded as the home to some of the most vital organs of the body -including uterus (prostrate in case of men), urinary bladder, and the rectum. Therefore, the pelvis is also considered as the foundation of the body. Pelvic muscles serve the role of support structures for keeping everything in place in the body. The muscles on the pelvic floor are responsible for adding support to various parts of the body. The muscles usually wrap around the pelvic bone to deliver maximum support.

Some of the pelvic floor muscles are also helpful in delivering more stability by creating a sling around the rectum. Some of the important pelvic organs are:

  • The prostate in men
  • The uterus in women
  • The bladder, responsible for holding urine
  • The rectum, the area towards the tip of the large intestine wherein the body stores solid waste

Usually, you are easily able to pay a visit to the washroom without any problems. It is because the body is used to tightening itself and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. This is regarded as any other muscular action.

However, in case of a Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, the body will keep tightening pelvic floor muscles rather than relaxing them under normal circumstances. The presence of tension implies that you might have to experience:

  • Stool or urine that leaks
  • An incomplete or unsatisfied bowel movement
  • Trouble in releasing or evacuating a bowel movement

Let’s talk some more about Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.

B] What Do You Need to Know About Pelvic Floor Dysfunction or PFD?

The tissues, ligaments, and muscles forming the pelvic floor are responsible for supporting the rectum, bladder, and surrounding sexual organs. When these supportive structures get weakened or tighten over time, doctors refer to it as the condition of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction or PFD. You should know that it is a common health problem.

A person experiencing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction will have painful pelvic muscles. Moreover, the organs in the pelvis might drop or sag. This condition is known as Pelvic Organ Prolapse or POP, where the organs in your pelvic can sag due to weakened pelvic muscles.

They typically start pressing down on the rectum or bladder, causing a leakage in stool or urine. In other cases, a person with POP might have trouble passing stool or urine.

People who have PFD are not able to properly relax or coordinate with the muscles in the pelvic floor area to ensure a bowel movement or urinate properly.

  • When a woman experiences pelvic floor problems, she might experience pain during intercourse.
  • Men with a weak pelvic floor can experience problems in keeping or having an erection (known as ED or Erectile Dysfunction).

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C] What are the Causes of Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles?

There are numerous causes of pelvic pain, which may or may not be associated with the Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. We’ll now discuss some very common causes of pelvic pain:

  1. Ageing: Ageing is inevitable and as you start getting older, the pelvic floor muscles also start getting weakened.
  1. Pregnancy: During pregnancy, your body goes through a lot of stress which includes the strain on your pelvic floor muscles. This could lead to the weakening of pelvic muscles which means you would lose control over your muscles. Hence, pelvic care during pregnancy is very important.
  1. Using incorrect technique or form for Pelvic Floor or Kegel Exercises: Kegel exercises are known to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Regular Kegel Exercises can help in resolving moderate and mild prolapses of the pelvic organs. However, if you do not exercise regularly or use incorrect exercise form or technique, it could cause your pelvic floor to weaken.
  1. Menopause: One of the causes of menopause is a decrease in estrogen levels, which can lead to weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, resulting in potential issues such as incontinence and prolapse.
  1. Vaginal Childbirth: Factors involving vaginal childbirth can cause Pelvic floor Dysfunction, which is caused due to a weak pelvic floor. Numerous factors such as use of forceps for birthing the child or anal sphincter injuries can be traumatic to your pelvic floor, weakening it to the extent that it starts affecting your life.
  1. Chronic Coughing and Smoking: Persistent coughs, especially brought on by specific lung conditions or smoking, tend to put a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. Eventually, the constant pressure on these muscles can cause them to weaken.
  1. Obesity: Eating sugary foods and a diet rich in fatty foods will increase your weight. Increased weight will put a lot of unnecessary pressure on the pelvic muscles. A person with a BMI under 30 tends to have a healthy pelvic floor. Even with a BMI under 30, if your sugar intake is high, you might end up eventually eliminating all elasticity out of ligaments and muscle fibres of the pelvic floor, leaving it brittle.
  1. High-Impact Exercises: When you indulge yourself in high-impact exercises like cross fit or running, your feet tend to land heavily on the ground underneath. This will shake your entire body. The vibrations caused can damage the muscles on the pelvic floor.
  1. Surgery: If you have undergone a surgery of the pelvic area, like hysterectomy, you might experience a higher level of damage to the pelvic floor.
  1. Constipation: If you feel constipated frequently while spending a lot of time straining on the toilet, you will end up putting unnecessary pressure on the pelvic floor.
  1. Genetics: Genetics also play a role in the condition of your pelvic floor. You can have a higher genetic risk of experiencing a weak pelvic floor.
  1. Not Emptying Your Bladder Quite Often: You should avoid putting unnecessary stress on your bladder by trying to hold it in. Whenever you feel the urge to pee, you should find the nearest washroom and relieve yourself. However, if you have the habit of holding it in, it could put immense & continuous strain on your bladder. Not urinating quite often will also lead to atonic bladder in which the bladder is not strong enough to hold your urine properly. A weakened bladder will lead to a weakened pelvic floor.
  1. Squatting Over the Toilet: Squatting activates and engages your pelvic muscles, which includes the pelvic floor muscles. This prevents the bowels and bladder from emptying to its full extent. Squatting while peeing will put pressure on the pelvic floor in the long run while also leading to UTIs or Urinary Tract Infections.
  1. Tumours: The additional weight of the tumour on the pelvic floor will eventually weaken it.
  1. Poor Posture: If you have a weak pelvic floor, sitting or standing in a poor posture could make additional symptoms like stress urinary incontinence and others quite worse.

D] Common Treatment Options

  • Pelvic floor exercises: You can engage in Kegel exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Physiotherapy: Early stages of Pilates exercises can help with the condition. You can also hire a professional physiotherapist to help you out.
  • Pelvic floor exercise with device: Specialised devices like Kegel balls can strengthen the area.

A women’s healthcare clinic can help you look into pelvic treatment options suitable for your diagnosis.  This guide focuses on sharing causes of weak pelvic floor muscles, if you still have any questions about the weak pelvic floor, kindly refer to our FAQs shared below. If even after going through the FAQs, you have some questions, feel free to contact us, we’d be happy to help you.

E] Common FAQs

1. Can stress lead to a weak pelvic floor?

However unlikely it may seem, stress and anxiety can both affect your pelvic floor. It is because stress and anxiety makes your pelvic floor muscles tighten. Constant muscle tightening could lead to pelvic floor dysfunction and pain.

2. Can a weak pelvic floor lead to back pain?

PFD or pelvic floor dysfunction can cause low back pain since the pelvis offers support to your lower back. When your pelvic floor muscles become weak the lower back muscles don’t get proper support and therefore affect your back causing pain.

3. Can a weak pelvic floor lead to frequent urination?

Yes. When you have a weak pelvic floor, it contributes to symptoms of an overactive bladder.

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Neha Goel

Neha Goel, a Psychology alumna and MBA graduate from CASS Business School, London, brings together her expertise as a Reiki Practitioner and Practice Manager. She integrates psychology and business strategies to foster holistic well-being and personal development.