Pelvic Floor Issues
What is it?
Leakage of urine can affect women across many stages of their life and is not just something that happens with the elderly. It can be differentiated into two main types Urge incontinence and Stress Incontinence (although you can get both together too).
It is important to realise that incontinence can affect males also but we will focus on the female anatomy here.
Stress incontinence is leakage of urine due to a physical stress or load on the body. This might be quite a high load like running and jumping or can be quite a light load like bending forward or lifting a small weight. You may leak with laughter, coughing and sneezing too.
The pelvic floor is made up of connective tissue (fascia and ligaments) and muscular tissue (pelvic floor muscles), and together this creates a sling of support at the base of the pelvis to support the pelvic organs, ie. the uterus, bladder and rectum.
Stress incontinence occurs when the downward pressure of load is greater than the upward pressure of the pelvic floor.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
What is it?
Pelvic organ prolapse is the descending of one of your pelvic organs in your pelvic cavity. There are many classifications involving the specific organ that is dropping and the location it is dropping towards. Most commonly this is the bladder, bowel or uterus descending towards or out of the vaginal canal. This can happen after childbirth or can be related to aging which causes increased stretch to your ligaments and fascia (connective tissue). It can also occur as a result of trauma or surgery.
What are the signs and symptoms?
- Heaviness or dragging sensation around the vagina
- A palpable lump or bulge around the vagina which often worsens with exercise, loading, and time as the day goes on
- Back pain with an associated dragging feeling
- Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel
- Leakage without stress or urgency
- Symptoms that improve after lying down – it often feels better in the morning