“The onset of menopause can cause your pelvic floor muscles – just like the rest of the muscles in your body – to weaken. These muscles support the pelvic organs…”.1

Umbrella
What may the Pelvic Floor Disorders Umbrella include?

Depending on the Source (DotS) this Umbrella may include:

  • Cystocele
  • Enterocele
  • Pelvic Floor Disorder (PFD)
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)
  • Pelvic Prolapse
  • Pelvic Support Problems
  • Prolapse
  • Rectocele
  • Weak Pelvic Floor

Pelvic Floor

What is the pelvic floor?

DotS the definition of the pelvic floor may vary. In Pelvic Support Problems: Summary the (United States) MedlinePlus’ definition is:

“The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and other tissues that form a sling or hammock across the pelvis. In women, it holds the uterus, bladder, bowel, and other pelvic organs in place so that they can work properly”.2

Pelvic Floor Disorder

What is a pelvic floor disorder (PFD)?

DotS the definition of a PFD may vary. The (United States) Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child and Human Development’s (NICHD) definition is:

“A PFD occurs when the muscles or connective tissues of the pelvic area weaken or are injured. The most common PFDs are urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. PFDs are more common among older women”.3

Prolapse

What is prolapse?

Dots the definition of prolapse may vary. The (Australian) Jean Hailes for Women’s Health’s (JH) definition is:

“Prolapse is caused by a stretching of the ligaments and muscles that support the pelvic organs, causing those organs to drop down. The word prolapse literally means to ‘fall out of place’”.4

In Prolapse: What Is Prolapse? Types of Prolapse [+ Image] the JH elaborate on:

“There are different types of prolapse including:
  • Vaginal prolapse…
  • Uterine prolapse…
  • Bladder prolapse (also called cystocele)…
  • Bowel prolapse (also called retrocele)…”.5

Pelvic Organ Prolapse

What is pelvic organ prolapse (POP)?

DotS the definition of a POP may vary. In Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Overview the (United Kingdom) NHS’s (National Health Service) definition is:

“Pelvic organ prolapse is when 1 or more of the organs in the pelvis slip down from their normal position and bulge into the vagina. It can be the womb (uterus), bowel, bladder or top of the vagina”.6

Cause

What can cause PFDs?

The MedlinePlus note:

“The pelvic floor can become weak or be injured. The main causes are pregnancy and childbirth. Other causes include being overweight, radiation treatment, surgery, and getting older”.7

In What Are PFDs? What Causes PFDs? the (United States) Voices for PFD explain:

“In general, a pelvic floor disorder is due to weakened pelvic muscles or tears in the connective tissue. A damaged pelvic floor cannot continue to 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”.8

Common or Not

How common are PFDs?

In What Are PFDs? Am I At Risk? Voices for PFD note:

“One out of four women (25%) 20 years or older suffer with PFDs. Most struggle with one or more PFDs—POP, urinary incontinence (UI), and fecal incontinence (FI—also called anal incontinence or accidental bowel leakage)”.9

Menopause

Is there an association between menopause and PFDs?

In Who’s At Risk? Menopause the (Australian) Pelvic Floor First elaborate on:

“The onset of menopause can cause your pelvic floor muscles – just like the rest of the muscles in your body – to weaken. These muscles support the pelvic organs, which means that the weakening of these muscles can result in pelvic floor problems. Reduced pelvic floor muscle function around the time of menopause can also be due to weight gain, which is common during menopause. Other contributing factors may include:

  • A less elastic bladder
  • Anal trauma resulting from childbirth, or
  • Chronic conditions such as diabetes or asthma which can cause bladder or bowel control problems”.10

Postmenopause

Is there an association between postmenopause and PFDs?

The JH explain:

Pelvic Floor Disorders“Postmenopausal women are more susceptible to prolapse. The trigger is a loss of oestrogen during menopause. This hormone helps to keep the pelvic floor muscles, which support the vagina and bladder, well toned. Once oestrogen levels drop after menopause, these muscles become thinner, weaker and less elastic. The vaginal skin may also stretch, which may allow the bladder or bowel to bulge into the vagina”.11

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of PFDs?

In Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFDs): What Are the Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFDs)? the NICHD elaborate on:

“Because there are different types of PFDs, symptoms of different PFDs can vary or overlap. For example, women with PFDs may:

  • Feel heaviness, fullness, pulling, or aching in the vagina that gets worse by the end of the day or is related to a bowel movement
  • See or feel a “bulge” or “something coming out” of the vagina
  • Have difficulty starting to urinate or emptying the bladder completely
  • Leak urine when coughing, laughing, or exercising
  • Feel an urgent or frequent need to urinate
  • Feel pain while urinating
  • Leak stool or have difficulty controlling gas
  • Have constipation
  • Have difficulty making it to the bathroom in time”.12

Normal or Not

Are the symptoms of PFDs normal?

No. The NICHD explain:

“Many women are reluctant to tell their healthcare provider about symptoms because they may feel embarrassed. In addition, many women think that problems with bladder control are normal and live with their symptoms. However, bladder control problems are treatable, and these treatments can help women with pelvic floor problems”.13

Management and Treatment

What can women do for the management and treatment of PFDs?

In Prolapse: Management & Treatment the JH elaborate on:

“Without intervention, the symptoms of prolapse usually worsen over time. However, there is a lot you can do to improve the symptoms”.14

The JH also explain:

“Treatment will depend on the severity of the prolapse and the degree it interferes with a woman’s lifestyle. In some women, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and modifying daily activities may be all that is required”.15

Health Care Provider

What if I think I have a PFD?

If you think you have a PFD, it may be in your best interest to choose to talk to your health care provider about this.

On page one in First Visit With A Urogynecologist: Helpful Tips To Prepare You for Your First Visit Voices for PFD provide a checklist “designed to help you get organized and optimize your consultation” and explain:

“It pays to be prepared for every doctor’s visit. The more your doctor knows about your past medical and surgical history, your daily medications and how all of the organs of your pelvis are working, the better they can diagnose and develop a customized treatment plan for your bothersome symptoms. Many offices may ask you to complete forms before your visit”.16

Health Topics A-Z

Where may I find Health Topics related to Pelvic Floor Disorders?

In Health Topics A-Z you may find:

Links

Where may I find Links related to Pelvic Floor Disorders?

Your Country may have Links similar to:

Sources

Where may I find the Sources quoted?

You may find the Sources quoted at:

Sources

  1. Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFDs). Last Reviewed Date: 08 January 2020. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child and Human Development https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pelvicfloor Accessed: 21 July 2020
  2. Pelvic Floor Disorders: Summary. Page Last Updated on: 20 May 2020. Topic Last Reviewed: 05 August 2016. MedlinePlus https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/pelvicsupportproblems.html Accessed: 21 July 2020
  3. Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFDs). Last Reviewed Date: 08 January 2020. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child and Human Development https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pelvicfloor Accessed: 21 July 2020
  4. Prolapse: What Is Prolapse? Last Updated: 30 January 2020 | Last Reviewed: 04 August 2018. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/bladder-bowel/prolapse-bladder-weakness Accessed: 21 July 2020
  5. Prolapse: What Is Prolapse? Types of Prolapse. Last Updated: 30 January 2020 | Last Reviewed: 04 August 2018. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/bladder-bowel/prolapse-bladder-weakness/ Accessed: 21 July 2020
  6. Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Overview. Page Last Reviewed: 07 August 2019. NHS (National Health Service) https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pelvic-organ-prolapse/ Accessed: 21 July 2020
  7. Pelvic Floor Disorders: Summary. Page Last Updated on: 20 May 2020. Topic Last Reviewed: 05 August 2016. MedlinePlus https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/pelvicsupportproblems.html Accessed: 21 July 2020
  8. What Are PFDs? What Causes PFDs? Voices for PFD https://www.voicesforpfd.org/about/what-are-pfds/ Accessed: 21 July 2020
  9. What Are PFDs? Am I At Risk? Voices for PFD https://www.voicesforpfd.org/about/what-are-pfds/ Accessed: 21 July 2020
  10. Who’s At Risk? Menopause. Pelvic Floor First https://www.pelvicfloorfirst.org.au/pages/going-through-menopause-or-post-menopausal.html Accessed: 21 July 2020
  11. Prolapse: Risk Factors for Prolapse – Postmenopausal Women. Last Updated: 30 January 2020 | Last Reviewed: 04 August 2018. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/bladder-bowel/prolapse-bladder-weakness/ Accessed: 21 July 2020
  12. Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFDs): What Are the Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFDs)? Last Reviewed Date: 08 January 2020. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child and Human Development https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pelvicfloor/conditioninfo/pages/symptoms.aspx Accessed: 21 July 2020
  13. Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFDs): What Are the Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFDs)? Last Reviewed Date: 08 January 2020. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child and Human Development https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pelvicfloor/conditioninfo/pages/symptoms.aspx Accessed: 21 July 2020
  14. Prolapse: Management & Treatment. Last Updated: 30 January 2020 | Last Reviewed: 04 August 2018. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/bladder-bowel/prolapse-bladder-weakness Accessed: 21 July 2020
  15. Prolapse: Management & Treatment. Last Updated: 30 January 2020 | Last Reviewed: 04 August 2018. Jean Hailes for Women’s Health https://www.jeanhailes.org.au/health-a-z/bladder-bowel/prolapse-bladder-weakness Accessed: 21 July 2020
  16. First Visit With A Urogynecologist: Helpful Tips to Prepare You for Your First Visit. Page 1. Voices for PFD https://www.voicesforpfd.org/assets/2/6/First_Visit_with_a_Urogyn.pdf Accessed: 21 July 2020
Topic Last Updated: 21 July 2020 – Topic Last Reviewed: 21 July 2020
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