Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

pelvic floor dysfunctionHave you ever experienced the embarrassment of not making it to the toilet in time? Have you ever suffered the indignity of losing control of your urine while laughing, exercising, or coughing? These are all symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.

What is pelvic floor dysfunction?

Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common source of pelvic pain. The experience of having pelvic floor dysfunction can be described as pain similar to a severe leg cramp. Pelvic floor dysfunction is the sudden onset of painful involuntary muscle contractions in your pelvic area. Your pelvic floor muscles are responsible for supporting your bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum.

Women who suffer with pelvic floor dysfunction often get it after experiencing gynecological surgery, a serious accident, or a troublesome vaginal birth. Pelvic floor dysfunction may also be caused by stress or those with the following serious medical conditions:

  • Interstitial cystitis

  • Endometriosis

  • Vulvodynia

  • Fibromyalgia

What causes pelvic floor dysfunction?

Pelvic muscle spasms are no different from any other kind of muscle spasms in the body. The concentration of lactic acid in oxygen deprived muscles cause painful muscle spasms in the pelvic area.

When your body converts the food you eat into energy, there is a natural build-up of lactic acid as a byproduct. When you exercise your muscles, they naturally burn oxygen. Involuntary muscle spasms will trigger the collection of lactic acid in the muscle, causing more painful muscle spasms. The symptoms become progressively worse over time if not properly treated.

What are the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction?

Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction can be experienced in a variety of ways.

  • Chronic pelvic pain that seems to travel around the groin, abdomen, and your back muscles.

  • Pain during sexual intercourse.

  • Frequent urge to urinate.

  • Burning sensation during urination.

  • Urinary incontinence.

  • Vaginal burning.

  • Painful menstrual cycles.

  • Difficult elimination or constipation.

Some women may feel like they are suffering from frequent urinary tract infections as many of the symptoms may be similar: frequent urination or a burning sensation while urinating. However if you are, in fact, suffering with pelvic floor dysfunction, lab tests will be able to confirm that there is no bacteria in your urine stream.

How is pelvic floor dysfunction diagnosed?

In order to be diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction, your gynecologist will give you a thorough examination as well as check your family medical history. If you have other conditions or events in your life that you believe may be contributing to your muscle spasms, please share this information with your gynecologist. If after a proper medical examination and a thorough look at your medical history, your doctor may request an MRI to rule out any other reasons for your muscle spasms.

It is also possible to have vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, irritable bowel syndrome, endometriosis, and fibromyalgia without having muscle spasms due to pelvic floor dysfunction. Your doctor will be able to confirm your suspicions.

Common treatments for pelvic floor dysfunction

You do not have to suffer with pelvic floor dysfunction for the rest of your life. Because pelvic floor dysfunction is a complicated condition, it is possible to take a multi-pronged approach to finding relief. Here are some therapies that you can discuss with your Raleigh OBGYN:

  • Muscle relaxants may be able to give you the immediate relief you seek. This medication can be given in oral or suppository form. Oral muscle relaxants may cause serious fatigue and other side effects.

  • Physical therapy may be able to help you to tone your pelvic floor muscles. One of our women’s health associates can refer you to a qualified physical therapist who can teach you gentle techniques that will relax and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

  • If you have other conditions that may be contributing to your pelvic floor dysfunction, your gynecologist can coordinate with other specialists to get you the care you need to be well.

  • If all other therapies prove to not work as well you hope, various injection therapies or surgeries may be an option.