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Pelvic Health for the Older Adult

 

What is the Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor is made of muscles that connect from the tailbone at the bottom of our spine to the pubic bone in the front of our pelvis. These are the muscles we would use to hold back gas or stop urinating. The pelvis contains organs, nerves and muscles all sandwiched in between layers of connective tissue. The deep layer of our pelvic floor supports organs like a hammock from underneath. The outer muscle layers help bring blood flow to our genitals to contribute to sexual function and orgasm. Multiple layers of the pelvic floor help to prevent loss of urine from the bladder or contents from the bowel. The pelvic floor muscles are part of our core and work with our deep abdominal muscles and the respiratory diaphragm. 

Experiencing These Symptoms?

Leaking during Coughing, Sneezing, Running, or jumping

-Chronic Pelvic Pain Pelvic Pressure

 Pelvic Floor Incontinence

The pelvic floor works with other muscles of our core in order to manage pressure. During coughing, laughing, sneezing and exercising, pressures within our abdominal cavity change. Our core, including the pelvic floor, must engage to resist that pressure in order to prevent loss of urine, stool or gas. If these muscles do not engage sufficiently, we can experience urinary leakage known as stress incontinence.

Another common type of incontinence, known as urge urinary incontinence, occurs with sudden urge to urinate instead of sensation of the gradual bladder filling. The pelvic floor often contributes to and/or becomes involved with urgency. Pelvic health physical therapy can help retrain the bladder and address the pelvic floor muscles. 

Pelvic Floor and Organ Prolapse 

Pelvic organs include the bladder, uterus (female), prostate (male) and rectum. These organs are supported from underneath by muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue. If support becomes insufficient, as occurs sometimes during pregnancy, postpartum or in menopause, Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) can occur. Symptoms of pressure, bulging or discomfort in the pelvis or lower abdomen can occur. In some people, POP occurs without symptoms at all. 

Pelvic Floor and Pain

Pelvic pain can involve reproductive, urinary, gastrointestinal, and musculoskeletal systems. Symptoms may include painful intercourse, constipation, and bladder urgency. Scar tissue from birth from abdominal surgeries may contribute to pain.

Pelvic Floor and Menopause

During menopause, elasticity of abdominal and pelvic soft tissue changes due to reduced levels of estrogen. This can contribute to prolapse, pain, or incontinence. Hormone changes during this time period, can affect heart, bone, brain, sexual, and urinary health.

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