Pelvic floor dysfunction: the most-asked questions

A weak pelvic floor (or a pelvic floor dysfunction) can cause health issues for the rest of your body. But not everything you may have read online is true. In this article we’re going to answer some of the most-asked questions relating to your pelvic floor, as well some advice on how to treat yours.

What causes a pelvic floor dysfunction?

The most common causes of a pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) are as follows:

  • menopause
  • post-pregnancy/childbirth
  • ageing
  • being overweight

Most people tend to start encountering problems with their pelvic floor after the age of 50. These issues are also more common among women.

Can a weak pelvic floor cause back pain?

Since your pelvic floor is located at the floor of your spine, it makes sense that a weak pelvic floor can cause back pain. Your pelvic floor and spine are connected, and so if one becomes damaged then the other could follow.

However, it’s worth remembering that a lot of other things can cause lower back pain, including poor posture, muscle injuries and a slipped disc.

So how can you tell if your back pain is caused by a weak pelvic floor? Well, one way of figuring it out is by thinking about when your back pain flares up.

  • Does it flare up in the morning after you wake up?
  • Does it flare up in the evening after sitting down at a desk all day?
  • Do you feel it when you make certain movements?
  • Or is it just ever present?

If it flares up after certain movements, it may be as a result of an injury. On the other hand, constant back pain may be the result of a pelvic floor dysfunction.

Having said that, it can be difficult to say for sure what is causing your back pain. A pelvic floor dysfunction is one of many potential reasons for it, so you should speak with a medical practitioner to get to the bottom of it.

Can it cause diarrhoea?

Yes – diarrhoea and a general inability to control your bowels is a common symptom of a pelvic floor dysfunction. The condition is known as faecal or bowel incontinence.

Can a weak pelvic floor cause incontinence?

Yes – incontinence is one of the most common symptoms of a pelvic floor dysfunction. The condition can cause both urinary and stress incontinence. But what’s the difference between those two terms?

Stress incontinence is when you involuntarily leak urine. This could happen randomly, or it could happen during sudden movements such as a sneeze or cough.

When it comes to urinary incontinence, you won’t leak urine involuntarily. Instead, you’ll feel regular urges to go to the bathroom.

How do you treat a pelvic floor dysfunction?

There are a number of pelvic floor muscle exercises you can perform at home. The most popular of those is Kegel exercises.

To perform Kegels, you firstly need to locate your pelvic floor muscles. To do this, imagine you need to stop yourself from going to the toilet. Tense the muscles you would use to avoid leaking urine. Contract them for 3-5 seconds, and release them again. Repeat this up to 10 times per set, and up to 3 times a day.

Do Kegels really work?

Kegels have been proven to be an effective treatment for PFDs. However, it takes a long time to strengthen your pelvic floor. And Kegels are only effective if they are performed correctly and consistently.

If you don’t use the correct technique for Kegels, you will not strengthen your weak pelvic floor muscles. And if you don’t perform them consistently over the course of several months, they won’t have any real effect on your pelvic floor.

Are there any other ways to treat a pelvic floor dysfunction?

Yes there are! Although Kegels can be an effective way of strengthening your pelvic floor, it can take a long time to see the benefits of them. If your pelvic floor is very damaged, it may take even longer.

One alternative treatment is the Emsella chair. The Emsella can perform the equivalent of 11,200 Kegels in just 30 minutes. You simply sit on the chair and wait for the electromagnetic waves to pass through your pelvic floor.

If you’re struggling to perform Kegels, there are also a number of alternatives to Kegel exercises that can be just as effective.

If you need any advice about your pelvic floor, feel free to book an initial consultation at the clinic. Our trained practitioners will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.