Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Consult

The 6 Pelvic Floor Dysfunction FAQs Asked in Physical Therapy

The pelvic floor performs an incredible amount of amazing functions . It helps you walk and stand up straight, but it also activates in many situations you aren’t even aware of, like raising your arm. This means that when you are facing pelvic floor dysfunction, it can cause issues that have long-term effects on your life.

Pelvic floor dysfunction can feel overwhelming, frustrating, and even confusing. Many people associate their symptoms with other conditions or have tried other exercises or solutions for their concerns prior to seeking pelvic floor physical therapy.

Your Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Questions: Answered

What is pelvic floor dysfunction?

The causes of pelvic floor dysfunction are numerous, and some are even unknown. Sometimes, pelvic floor dysfunction is caused slowly over a long period of time by learned behavior that is damaging to the pelvic floor, and other times it is caused by childbirth or traumatic injury to the area. For people pursuing gender reconstruction surgery, addressing pelvic floor dysfunction via retraining is part of a recovery plan.
While this wide, and sometimes unknown, range of causes can make it impossible to identify the exact source of your pelvic floor dysfunction concerns, the good news is that does not keep us from addressing them.

Why are my pelvic floor muscles so tight?

It can be hard to pinpoint an exact answer at times, but the main causes of muscle tension are trauma, overactivity, or a next-door neighbor issue. Trauma encompasses many things like surgery, rape, a difficult delivery, a sports accident, etc.
Overworking these muscles is also a concern because they are your stabilizers of the spine and hips, so if they are overworking because your abdomen, back, and butt muscles are not activating properly, then your pelvic floor has to work even harder to make up the difference which will ultimately result in pelvic floor issues.
The final, next-door neighbor issues, also encompass many possibilities. If things next to the pelvic floor muscles get irritated the muscles will tighten in response. Things like skin issues that affect the vulva (lichen sclerosis, vaginal atrophy, vulvodynia, etc), conditions that affect nearby organs (endometriosis, diverticulitis, hemorrhoids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, etc).
There are many conditions and experiences, or combinations thereof even which can drive tension in this area.

What are the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction?

Any one of, or a combination of several of the following, can cause pelvic floor dysfunction: urinary incontinence, urinary retention, constipation, fecal incontinence, pain with penetration, pain inserting or removing tampon, speculum, fingers, vibrators, penis, dildo, etc, difficulty achieving or pain with orgasm, lower back, hip, tailbone, or abdominal pain, and maybe the most obvious but still often under-recognized pain with vaginal/vulvar, or testicular/penile pain.

How do you test for pelvic floor dysfunction?

Unfortunately, there is no direct test for pelvic floor dysfunction. Typically, it takes an observant and caring provider to notice you are reporting the above symptoms and for them to then observe your pelvic floor for proper range of motion by palpating to test for proper bulk, or pain, shortness, or tightness.
Putting together patient reporting, combined with what the provider is seeing and feeling, is how you identify pelvic floor dysfunction. Sometimes patients research pelvic floor dysfunction and advocate to be seen themselves after realizing their pattern of symptoms. Many states are direct access, so you might not even need a doctor’s order to get the care you need.

Can pelvic floor dysfunction go away on its’ own?

Possibly, but not always. If you have been experiencing symptoms for greater than three months, the chances of your pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms going away on their own are pretty slim.
If you are consistently experiencing these symptoms, don’t wait to get it checked out— I see people so often who tell me “I’ve always had painful pap smears, they just told me that was normal” or “my incontinence started after I had my first child, and now I just had my 4th and I am having to wear depends”.
See a pelvic floor physical therapist right away if you suspect that you are dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction so you can minimize or resolve your symptoms as soon as possible.

How do you fix pelvic floor dysfunction?

I try to avoid the term “fix” because the bottom line is you are not damaged goods! You simply need some guidance to get yourself back to improved pelvic floor health.
The first thing you need to do is schedule a physical therapy evaluation. Evaluations go through your history, focusing on bowel, bladder, sexual, low back and hip function, prolapse concerns, etc and will review your surgical history, complete with a general movement screening, and if it is deemed appropriate and you consent, an external and internal pelvic floor muscle assessment as well. This will help the therapist deliver a full plan and path to healing.
Pelvic floor dysfunction means your pelvic floor muscles struggle to tighten and relax when you need them to. By contracting and releasing the pelvic floor muscles your body allows bowel and bladder movements, pelvic floor dysfunction means your muscles tighten, when you actually need them to contract. As you can imagine, this definitely limits your ability to pee and poop, and as we all know, everybody poops! EVERYONE needs to. Chronic constipation and urinary incontinence are common concerns for those with pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms.

Working With A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

Luckily, many symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction can be resolved with physical therapy. Pelvic floor dysfunction occurs when there is a lack of ability to coordinate or relax the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles allow you to urinate and have bowel movements, and they also play a part in sexual activity.

To treat pelvic floor dysfunction, your pelvic floor physical therapist will first examine your medical history and discuss your symptoms with you. Your Pelvic Floor Physical therapist will help you decide the best course of treatment for your individual needs and will work to help recondition the pelvic floor muscles in order to improve the strength, flexibility, and function of the muscles. They will help teach you how to be more aware of the muscles and how to coordinate them; as well as pelvic floor exercises or breathing techniques if necessary for your case.

Remember, it’s always important to advocate for yourself and your health. Whether your symptoms point to pelvic floor dysfunction, you deserve to have a proper diagnosis and treatment for relief of those symptoms.

Want to consult with a Pelvic Floor Physical therapist and get started on your pelvic floor health journey? Book a FREE 20-minute consultation with me HERE.

P.S. If you have any questions about symptoms of pelvic floor problems in men/penis owners, or pelvic floor health in general, head over to Instagram, and let’s connect in the DMs!

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