The muscles, ligaments and connective tissues that support the bladder, uterus (women), bowel, prostate (men) and rectum make up the pelvic floor. If these muscles become damaged or weakened, it can affect their ability to properly support these organs. This is known as pelvic organ prolapse.
As a result, the organs may not function properly, leading to problems such as pelvic pressure, pain, constipation, incontinence and urinary tract infections. If the organs begin to drop from their normal position within the pelvis, it may cause pain during physical activity or intercourse.
For women, carrying and delivering a baby can place a great deal of stress on the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor issues in men are usually caused by the prostate. Excess weight also may increase pressure on the pelvis. Stroke, trauma and other illnesses may contribute to pelvic floor disorders as well.
Treatment depends on each patient’s symptoms, medical history and lifestyle. Your doctor will start with a physical exam to check the pelvic floor and rule out other conditions that may be causing symptoms. You may also have a pelvic ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis and help determine the best treatment.
Often, you can find relief by doing exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Your doctor may recommend Kegel exercises, which involve repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that help support the pelvic floor, can be done anywhere and have proven very effective. In addition, a physical therapist trained in pelvic floor rehabilitation may use various therapies to target the pelvic floor muscles.
In some cases, surgery may be recommended to repair damaged ligaments. Mercy specialists often perform these surgeries using minimally invasive techniques, which may involve fewer incisions and a faster recovery.
Pelvic floor disorders affect many people, and Mercy physicians are ready to help with expertise, experience and compassion. Take the first step to relief by scheduling an appointment with a Mercy physician, and get back to pain-free living.