Frequently Asked Questions
Both men and women have a pelvic floor. In women, the pelvic floor is the muscles, ligaments, connective tissues and nerves that support the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum and help these pelvic organs function. In men, the pelvic floor includes the muscles, tissues and nerves that support the bladder, rectum and other pelvic organs.
Pelvic floor disorders are a group of conditions that affect the pelvic floor. A pelvic floor disorder occurs when the support structures of the pelvic organs becomes weak or damaged. The three main types of pelvic floor disorders are but not limited to: pelvic organ prolapse (a condition in which the uterus, bladder and bowel may “drop” onto the vagina and cause a bulge through the vaginal canal); lack of bowel control/faecal incontinence and lack of bladder control/urinary incontinence.
In general, a pelvic floor disorder is due to weakened pelvic muscles or tears in the connective tissue. A damaged pelvic floor cannot provide the support that your organs need to work effectively. As this structure weakens, normal functioning of the bowel, bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum can be affected. Childbirth and/or giving birth more than once is one of the main causes of pelvic floor disorders. Overweight and obese women have a greater risk. A history of pelvic surgery or radiation treatments can cause these disorders as these treatments can damage nerves and other tissues in the pelvic floor. Other risk factors that can increase pelvic floor disorders include repeated heavy lifting or even genes.
People with PFDs may experience: urinary problems an urgent need to urinate, painful urination or incomplete emptying of their bladder; constipation, pain or straining during bowel movements; pain or pressure in the vagina/rectum; a heavy feeling in the pelvis or a bulge in the vagina or rectum and muscle spasms in the pelvis.
A combination of experts provides the best treatment outcome for patients. At the Urology Hospital’s Pelvic Wellness Centre, women and men are treated by a specialist team that includes a urologist, urogynaecologist, colorectal surgeon, gastroenterologist, physiotherapist and a dedicated nurse that coordinates care at the Pelvic Wellness Centre.
If you suspect that you may have a PFD, or experience any of the warning signs listed above you should speak with a doctor about these symptoms. Do not let embarrassment stop you from seeking medical attention as there are many treatment options available. If you do nothing to correct the problems, unfortunately, most often the symptoms increase and other forms of PFD may develop. If you are not experiencing any signs or symptoms of PFD, take steps to ensure that you are knowledgeable on what you should be doing, or avoiding, to prevent issues.