Like many women, you’ve probably heard about your pelvic floor without really understanding where it is and what it does. That may be perfectly fine as long as it remains strong and in good health, but a weakened pelvic floor can interfere with daily activities, your quality of life, and overall wellness.
Learning about pelvic floor health and how to keep your pelvic floor strong can help you keep the area intact so it can do its job and allow you to live normally. Ignoring pelvic floor health can lead to problems with your bowel, bladder, hips, normal sexual function, and childbirth.
Diagnosing and treating problems with your pelvic floor requires a consultation with a medical professional. The wellness specialists at Ovation Wellness in Madison, Mississippi, can determine whether you’re experiencing symptoms associated with a weakened pelvic floor and what you can do to improve pelvic floor health.
Find out more about the benefits of a strong pelvic floor and how you can maintain this important aspect of wellness.
Understanding your pelvic floor
Your pelvic floor consists of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue that play an important role in supporting your pelvic organs, which include your bladder, bowel, uterus, and vagina. Together, the components of your pelvic floor act as a sling to support your pelvic organs.
When your pelvic floor is in normal health, it allows for normal muscle contraction and relaxation. This helps to maintain urination, bowel movements, and sexual health in women.
When the pelvic floor muscles become weakened, they can’t sufficiently support these organs, complicating their normal functions and performance.
Effects of a weakened pelvic floor
A weakened pelvic floor can cause changes that can interfere with daily activities and your ability to participate in normal routines.
Bladder and bowel control
When your pelvic floor becomes lax, the muscles lose their ability to sufficiently control your bladder. A weakened pelvic floor is associated with urinary stress continence, a chronic condition that causes spontaneous urine leakage when you cough, sneeze, jump, laugh, or stress your bladder in other ways.
Other issues related to elimination, such as a persistent urge to urinate, painful urination, constipation, or bowel strains can also result when your pelvic floor loses strength.
Inadequate pelvic floor muscles can cause other muscles in the pelvic area to become over-stressed to compensate for their weakness. This abnormal pressure on other muscles can result in back or hip pain over time.
A weakened pelvic floor can interfere with blood flow to the pelvic region. Without healthy blood flow, pelvic nerves and tissue suffer, compromising your vaginal health and sexual experience.
When the muscles in your pelvic floor are weakened, related issues such as incontinence and painful intercourse can cause low self-esteem and interfere with sexual desire and enjoyment.
Your pelvic floor helps protect your pelvic muscles from the weight and strain of carrying a growing baby. A healthy pelvic floor can help you push out your baby during labor and encourage your pelvic area to recover faster after delivery.
However, a weakened pelvic floor can increase your risk of uterine prolapse in post-pregnancy, a condition in which your uterus drops down into your vagina. It can also cause the onset of bladder and bowel control problems that begin after childbirth and last for months or years.
Conditions that affect your pelvic floor
When your pelvic floor loses strength, it weakens the pelvic muscles or tears connective tissue. Some common causes of a weakened pelvic floor include:
- Nerve damage
- Pelvic surgery
- Traumatic injury to the pelvic region
- Persistent straining during bowel movements
Your pelvic floor also becomes weaker with age as your connective tissues become stiffer and less able to provide support. Declining estrogen levels that occur during menopause contribute to drier, thinner tissue in the pelvic area.
Achieving a strong pelvic floor
You can take steps to improve and maintain the strength of your pelvic floor at any age. A wellness specialist can determine the most appropriate therapies.
Depending on the condition of your pelvic floor, one or more of the following options can help strengthen your pelvic floor:
- Accurately perform Kegel exercises daily
- Lose excess weight
- Prevent constipation by consuming more fruits, vegetables, fiber, and water daily
- Seek treatment for a chronic cough
- Pursue biofeedback to learn how to contract your pelvic muscles
If you’re experiencing symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor, you may benefit from nonsurgical treatments that use heat to stimulate pelvic tissue. When nonsurgical treatments aren’t adequate, your provider may advise surgery to repair the area.
Find out more about the benefits of a strong pelvic floor and how it makes a difference in your daily life. Call our office today to schedule a medical consultation.