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Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Explained

We explore the causes , symptoms and treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction in men and women.

6 min read
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Explained
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Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Explained

We explore the causes , symptoms and treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction in men and women.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Explained

We explore the causes , symptoms and treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction in men and women.

Put simply, Pelvic Floor Dysfunction is the inability to effectively control or relax your pelvic floor muscles.

However, the complexity and severity of the condition is not so simple, so let’s dive deeper into what causes it, its symptoms and how it can be managed and treated.

doctor showing pelvic floor

What is pelvic floor dysfunction

The pelvic floor is home to a group of muscles and ligaments that acts as a sling for your pelvic organs - your bladder, rectum, uterus and/or prostate.

Having the ability to contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles allows you to control actions such as urinating, bowel movements and even sexual intercourse.

But pelvic floor dysfunction disrupts those bodily functions and instead forces the pelvic floor to be tense and contract.

It’s important to note that there are different types of pelvic floor dysfunction which you can read more about in more detail here.

pelvic floor dysfunction symptom

What are the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction?

While symptoms will be different from person to person, and depending on the type of pelvic floor dysfunction they have, some common symptoms can include:

  • Pain and/or pressure in the pelvis, genitals or rectum

  • Stress urinary incontinence - small urine leaks due to an activity putting pressure on the pelvic floor such as coughing or jumping

  • Incomplete urination

  • Frequent and/or sudden urge to urinate

  • Involuntary leakage of stool

  • Constipation and/or straining during a bowel movement

  • Lower back pain

  • Hip pain

  • A bulge somewhere in the lower pelvic region

  • Pelvic muscle spasms

man and woman reading about pelvic floor

Does pelvic floor dysfunction differ for men and women?

If a continence management product is too big or too small, not only will it be uncomfortable for the wearer, but it will lead to issues around leakage and hygiene. It’s common for those new to the world of incontinence products to confuse absorbency with size, so make sure you’re assessing those two needs on individual levels.

Each continence management product will have a fit guide, as well as a guide on how to measure against their product sizing accurately. Elements such as hip and waist circumference play a key role in ensuring the appropriate fit.

While there are a lot of crossovers when it comes to pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms in women and men, there are also gender specific symptoms that can occur because of pelvic floor dysfunction, or co-exist with it.

In men: 

  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) - ED is a condition where a man cannot get or maintain an erection during sex. Pelvic floor dysfunction and the muscle tension and/or pain that it can cause can influence ED, but it’s usually not the only cause as ED is a complex condition.

  • Prostatitis - This condition is characterised by an infection or inflammation of the prostate. Pelvic floor dysfuntction symptoms can closely resemble those of prostatitis, so it’s important that if men are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms to see their GP and rule our prostatitis.

In women:

  • Reproductive health & pain during sex - If a woman has pelvic floor dysfunction, she may also experience pain during sex due to the overactivity, tightening and/or pressure of her pelvic floor muscles. A woman may also experience reduced vaginal sensation if she has pelvic floor dyfsfunction.

  • Pregnancy - can also lead to pelvic floor dysfunction, either during or after pregnancy (or both) due to the pressure placed on the pelvic floor.

pregnant lady with pelvic floor doctor

What causes pelvic floor dysfunction?

While symptoms will be different from person to person, and depending on the type of pelvic floor dysfunction they have, some common symptoms can include:

  • Ageing

  • Pregnancy and childbirth

  • Menopause

  • Traumatic injuries to the pelvic area

  • Overusing pelvic muscles (straining on the toilet, heavy lifting)

  • Pelvic surgery

  • Being overweight

  • Family history

pelvic floor dysfunction diagnosis

How is pelvic floor dysfunction diagnosed?

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, your first port of call is to see your GP. They will review your medical history and observe your symptoms to ensure there isn’t a more serious underlying condition.

Your doctor may also perform a physical exam to check for muscle spasms, weakness and tightness. They may also perform an internal exam to check pelvic muscle control and contractions. Other tests can be suggested such as a urine flow test or electrodiagnostic testing (EMG) which evalautes the nerve function of the pelvic floor. It does this by measuring the pelvic floor muscles’ response to a series of small electrical pulses.

How is pelvic floor dysfunction treated?

Once you’ve been assessed by your GP first, you can also pay a visit to a pelvic physiotherapist. They specialise in pelvic pain and rehabilitation using physiotherapy techniques and exercises.

These can include kegel or pelvic floor exercises that can help to both strengthen and relax the pelvic floor to ultimately provide more control of the actions performed through your pelvic floor - going to the bathroom, sex, etc.

Other treatment options for pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • Medication - Your GP may prescribe a muscle relaxant to help with pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms..

  • Lifestyle changes - These can include actively trying not to push or strain when using the bathroom and using yoga and meditation to relax your pelvic floor muscles. Taking warm baths can be another helpful technique to relax your pelvic floor muscles.

  • Surgery - This is definitely more of a ‘last resort’ style of treatment and really depends on the severity of the pelvic floor dysfunction. For example, if your pelvic floor dysfunction is the result of some kind of prolapse, surgery can loosen the affected pelvic organs and allow them to relax.

Pelvic floor dysfunction should not be left untreated as it can lead to long-term muscle and organ damage, or infection.

Thankfully because of these treatment options, the condition is largely curable and if not easily managed so you can live a comfortable and confident life.

Managing pelvic floor dysfunction related incontinence

If you do experience incontinence alongside you’re pelvic floor dysfunction, it’s important to know that it can be comfortably managed with the right continence management products.

For light bladder leakage, we offer European-made and superior absorbency pads and guards for both women and men. If you need extra protection or have a higher amount of urine loss, you can opt for our pull-ups pants. These will also work for any stool leakage.

For any heavier bouts of incontinence and/or a lack of mobility for the wearer, our range of all-in-one slips will be your go-to.

If you’re unsure in anyway about what products are best for your needs, don’t worry, we are here to help. We have a team of friendly product specialists that are only a call, email or online message away who can share which items in our range will suit you.

  • Call: 0800 088 5955

  • Email: hello@confidenceclub.co.uk 

We also have our online Help Me Choose quiz, whereby you answer a few simple yet comprehensive enough questions that allow us to suggest your best suited products.

Remember, you can still live a comfortable and confident life with incontinence!