Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common condition that is not often talked about because of the personal nature of this ailment. Muscle spasms begin when the pelvic floor, the area that supports the pelvis, is stressed. These spasms range from mild and infrequent to constant and debilitating.
Causes of Stress
Stress of the pelvic floor is caused by a variety of conditions. Mental health conditions such as generalised anxiety disorder, or a past trauma---such as rape---to the pelvic area, may trigger pelvic stress. Medical problems may also be responsible for pelvic floor dysfunction. Among these conditions are interstitial cystits, chronic constipation, vulvodynia and untreated vaginal infections. Women who have given birth may also fall victim to pelvic floor stress issues after delivery.
Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
A person may experience some or all of many symptoms. One of the most common signs is pain in the pelvis, perineum or vagina. Other signs include a frequent urge to urinate, pain during intercourse and the inability to fully empty the bowels.
Ways to Treat Pelvic Stress
Severe pelvic floor issues may be treated by a physical therapist who specialises in biofeedback of that area. The therapist has the patient insert into the pelvic area a device that monitors and measures muscle activity. The therapist teaches exercises and breathing techniques to calm the pelvic floor, resulting in fewer spasms. People with continued pelvic stress issues may incorporate heat packs and seat cushions into their everyday routine, take warm baths and employ breathing exercises during stressful situations. Physicians sometimes prescribe low-grade antidepressants and muscle relaxers to patients with pelvic floor dysfunction.
People with weak pelvic floors often tend to experience additional symptoms. Pelvic floor dysfunction often occurs in conjunction with irritable bowl syndrome, interstitial cystits, endometriosis and vulvar vestibulitis.
When to Seek Medical Care
Most people, especially women, experience pelvic pain at some point in their lifetime. Many people may be embarrassed to seek help because of the intensely personal nature of the symptoms. It is important, however, to seek the help of a gynecologist or other qualified medical professional if pelvic pain becomes chronic and affects daily activities. Treatment is required to rule out infection and help the patient manage the stress that causes the symptoms.