Pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) can cause symptoms that range in severity and affect anyone’s whole health. From the physical discomfort and pain to emotional turmoil and embarrassment, pelvic floor disorders significantly affect the body, mind and spirit of millions of Americans. But find comfort in knowing that you can take steps to lower your risk with these tips.
The Most Common Pelvic Problems
While PFDs can occur in both men and women, they are most common among older females. In fact, more than one-third of women in the U.S. have a PFD.
The most common PFDs are:
- Pelvic organ prolapse, which occurs when a woman’s pelvic muscles are no longer able to support one or more of the organs in her pelvic region. These organs include the bladder, urethra, rectum, uterus and vagina.
- Bladder control problems, or urinary incontinence, which occurs when the bladder falls from its proper place in the body, causing urine to leak out.
- Bowel control problems, or fecal incontinence, which occurs when the rectum isn’t in its proper place in the body, causing stool to leak out of the rectum.
Common Causes of Pelvic Floor Disorders
In general, a PFD happens when the pelvic muscles and connective tissues are weakened or injured. Some possible contributors to the development of a PFD include:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Being overweight or obese
Lower Your Risk of Pelvic Floor Disorders
You may not be able to avoid some of these risk factors (such as aging or genetics), and others may be just a natural result from a journey to motherhood, but you can still take steps that may lower your risk for PFDs.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Being overweight increases your risk of developing a PFD and can make symptoms worse if you do develop one.
- Eat a healthy diet.
Be sure to include lots of fluids and plenty of high-fiber foods. This can keep your bowels functioning normally, preventing constipation. Preventing constipation can help reduce the risk of developing some PFDs.
- Avoid tobacco.
People who smoke may develop a chronic cough, which puts stress on the pelvic floor. If you smoke, talk with your doctor about getting help to quit.
- Work out your pelvic floor.
Pelvic floor exercises, or Kegel exercises, help keep pelvic floor muscles toned, decreasing your risk of developing a PFD. To do Kegel exercises, squeeze the muscles you would use if you were trying to stop yourself from urinating. Pull in these pelvic muscles and hold for three seconds, then relax for three seconds. Work your way up to 10 repetitions of this, three times a day. Most women notice an improvement after a few weeks of trying Kegel exercises.
If you do develop a PFD, there are treatments available. Talk to one of our experts today by visiting our website.