You know what incontinence is – in fact, you experience it. But do you know why it’s occurring? Did you know it can be pinpointed down to a specific cause? And that cause is the pelvic floor muscles.
What are pelvic floor muscles exactly? Men and women have a pelvic floor. For women, it is the muscles, ligaments, tissues and nerves that support the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum, and help these pelvic organs function. For men, it is the muscles, tissues and nerves that support the bladder, rectum and pelvic organs.
Women experience pelvic floor disorders more than men. Some quick statistics from the National Institute of Health (NIH), pelvic floor disorders affect:
· 10% of women age 20-39
· 27% of women age 40-59
· 37% of women age 60-79
· Nearly 50% of women age 80 and over
According to the NIH, pelvic floor disorders result when the muscles and connective tissue within the pelvic cavity weaken or are injured. Women are at a higher risk for this happening due to childbirth. However, the symptoms may not present themselves right away. Pelvic floor muscles can be damaged or weakened during childbirth, but the weakening may not be evident until menopause or later.
The 3 main pelvic floor disorders:
Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the release of urine from the bladder. There are a few different types of urinary incontinence. This includes urge incontinence, also known as overactive bladder, which is a sudden, uncontrollable urge to urinate. Stress incontinence is the inability to hold urine which is triggered by sneezing, laughing, coughing and exercise, and mixed incontinence which is symptoms of both types. There are other types of incontinence stemming from a stroke, operations, or medications but the most common types are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Bowel incontinence is the inability to control bowel movements. It includes passive incontinence, which is the involuntary discharge of stool or gas without awareness. Urge incontinence is the uncontrollable discharge of stool or gas despite attempts to control it, and fecal seepage. Pelvic floor injuries can also lead to bowel incontinence, which is lesser known than urinary incontinence.
Pelvic organ prolapse is when pelvic organs such as uterus, bladder and bowel collapse on the vagina. The resulting pressure can cause a bulge through the vaginal canal. This can be uncomfortable and make any physical activity difficult.
There are a variety of treatments available for pelvic floor disorders. The course of treatment depends on each individual case and symptoms, but it can include anything from physical therapy to medication to minimally invasive surgery.
If you think you are suffering from pelvic floor disorder, contact us. Or call our dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-771-1953.