The pelvic floor muscles are important to help support the bowel, bladder, uterus, and vagina in females. When muscles are weakened it can be difficult to control urine, among other things.

Causes

There are a few causes for a weak pelvic floor, which occurs when the muscles are too stretched, weakened, or tightened. Some people can have this develop from a young age, while other times different life events, such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, can cause this. Others have tight pelvic floor muscles. Too many squeezing exercises without giving muscles time to relax can become a problem. Pelvic muscles can be consciously controlled, so it’s important to work them while also making sure that you are not overworking them. Other causes can be being overweight, having constant constipation and straining to empty the bowel, heavy lifting, or having a chronic cough or sneeze. Smoking, asthma, or hay fever can cause a chronic cough. Previous injuries to the pelvis, whether it’s surgery, radiotherapy, or a fall, can also cause weakened muscles.

Symptoms

You may find that you have a weak pelvic floor if you leak small amounts of urine when sneezing, coughing, laughing, or running, or find that are you unable to reach the toilet in time. Constantly having to use the bathroom or finding that you are unable to completely relieve your bladder are also symptoms. Females can have a reduced sensation in the vagina and find that tampons will dislodge or fall out. There can also be a sensation of heaviness in the vagina, causing painful sex.

Complications

One of the main complications that goes along with this is a loss of bladder control, which is one of the main symptoms people report. Some also have bowel incontinence. There can also be sexual difficulties since there can be a reduced sensation in the vagina.

Treatment

If you have these problems, it’s best to seek help so you can determine the best course of treatment. There are some exercises that can be done to help improve the muscle so that surgery doesn’t have to be the only option. Exercises are usually the first step in correcting some of the issues. Exercises should be performed correctly, and it may take weeks or months in order to notice any significant improvement.

In addition to strengthening the pelvic floor, there are health changes you can make in order to help reduce symptoms. Work on weight management to lose some excess body fat. Since constipation can cause a strain, work on eating some more fruits and vegetables, maintain a diet high in fiber, and drink water throughout the day. Seek medical help for a cough that lasts, to prevent even more straining.