Submitted by Poonam McAllister, Central Illinois Institute of Balance
Some conditions may feel too embarrassing to discuss with your doctor. You may have trouble with bladder or bowel control. You may have pain with sex or notice a sensation of pressure in your vagina. Urine may leak out when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or exert yourself in any way. You might need to urinate often or urgently.
Weak pelvic floor muscles can cause such conditions. Weak muscles can also affect the vagina and uterus. You may feel discomfort inside your vagina. Tight pelvic floor muscles can cause pelvic pain or pain with sex. But it’s important to tell your doctor about these conditions so you can get the right treatment.
Your bladder, bowel, vagina, and uterus are held in place by a hammock of muscles called the pelvic floor. Weak muscles can’t hold up these organs. That can cause your bladder to leak and other embarrassing conditions called pelvic floor disorders.
Pelvic floor disorders affect women of all ages. Experts estimate that 1 of every 3 women in the United States has a pelvic floor condition. But because so many women don’t tell their doctor, they’re probably much more common.
Many factors—including family history, pregnancy, menopause, weight, and smoking history—can affect your risk for developing a pelvic floor disorder. Some women are just going to be very prone to these sorts of conditions, and others are not.
Depending on the condition, treatment options may include dietary changes, physical therapy, medications, medical devices, or surgery. The National Institutes of Health is funding studies to develop new and improved treatments. A recent study from the network showed that women who urinate too often or leak urine may be treated successfully with Botox injections. Another treatment that helps with bladder control uses a surgical implant to electrically stimulate the pelvic muscle nerves. Stimulating the nerves appears to help the bladder relax more.
But the first thing to do is to see a pelvic floor specialist. Physical therapy is often the first treatment recommended because just about every pelvic floor condition will benefit from it. Some conditions, however, may need more than just physical therapy to get better.
Pelvic floor physical therapy often begins with simple pelvic floor exercises. Some of these are known as Kegel exercises. They make the pelvic muscles stronger. Any woman can benefit from these exercises. Ask your physical therapist or health care provider how to do them correctly.
Kegels performed at home may not work for some women with a pelvic floor condition. This may be because women don’t hold the exercises long enough, and they don’t do enough of them during the day.
Physical therapy involves monitoring and measuring the amount of strength that the muscles are using and making sure that the correct muscles are being used—and for often enough and long enough.
Pelvic Physical Therapy for pelvic pain may involve release of pelvic floor muscles performed by a trained Physical Therapist along with relaxation and stretching exercises.
Women who have a pelvic floor condition don’t have to suffer. Treatments are available. If you have any pelvic pain, pain during sex, have a problem with your bladder function, or what your vagina feels like, then it’s absolutely important to speak with your doctor.
For more information on physical therapy for pelvic floor disorders or any problem with balance, contact Central Illinois Institute of Balance at 309-663-4900, or online at www.dizzyil.com. Their office is located at 211 Landmark Dr, Suite E-3 in Normal.