What Are Pelvic Floor Disorders?

Approximately 80 percent of those who suffer from disorders of the pelvic floor are women. Pelvic floor disorders are typically a consequence of obstetrical delivery. Muscle strain is common during labor and delivery. This can cause problems years later, as those muscles weaken and are further stressed by weight gain.

Other causes of pelvic floor disorders include:

  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Degenerative neurologic conditions
  • Obesity
  • Hysterectomy
  • Heavy lifting
  • Pelvic injury from a road accident or other trauma
  • Surgery or radiation for uterine, cervical, prostate or rectal cancer

Learn more about treatment options available at Mass General.

Questions to Ask Your Patients

Pelvic floor disorders are under-reported and under-diagnosed. That’s because many patients are uncomfortable talking about their symptoms or assume these problems can’t be corrected. You can use the following questions as a guide to help discuss pelvic floor disorders symptoms with your patient:

  • Do you have discomfort or a sense of heaviness or pressure in the pelvic area? This sensation may feel like something falling out of the vagina.
  • Do you feel that some of your organs, such as your vagina, uterus or rectum have shifted in position?
  • Do you have difficulty emptying your bladder completely?
  • Do you ever suffer from urinary incontinence (leaking that is out of your control)?
  • Do you experience urgent, frequent or painful urination?
  • Do you suffer from chronic constipation (constipation that doesn’t respond to laxatives)?
  • Have you ever suffered from fecal incontinence (inability to control your bowel movements?)

Download these questions (PDF)