The Importance Of A Strong Pelvic Floor

When most people hear the phrase pelvic floor, thoughts come to mind of incontinence. The correlation is understandable, considering that muscles in a person’s pelvic region are responsible for assisting the bladder in holding urine and managing bowel movements. For women, in particular, having weakened muscles in that region of the body can also sometimes cause sexual dysfunction. Like men with erectile dysfunction (ED), pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) is often a cause for concern for individuals trying to conceive.

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What is PFD?

Pelvic floor dysfunction refers to poor muscle coordination in a person’s pelvic floor. Common signs that an individual might have the condition include straining to have bowel movements, frequently feeling the need to use the bathroom, and experiencing urine or stool leaks. Another lesser-discussed side effect of PFD is sexual dysfunction.

How PFD causes sexual dysfunction

Both genders can experience PFD, and as a result, both men and women may find that weak pelvic muscles can put a cramp in a healthy sex life. Specifically, problems can manifest as reduced sensation when engaged in sex, slower arousal, trouble achieving or maintaining an erection for men, and difficulty reaching an orgasm. Although most people think of PFD as solely related to weak muscles, too-tight muscles can also be a problem. Especially for women, having sex may be painful, and achieving an orgasm can be uncomfortable if the muscles are overactive.

What causes PFD?

For most people, PFD is caused by life events. For women, common causes of weakened muscles can include pregnancy, giving birth, hormonal changes, menopause, and aging. Obesity can also lead to weaker pelvic muscles for both genders. Meanwhile, overactive pelvic muscles can be caused by stress, frequently waiting too long to use the bathroom, or even incorrectly using core muscles when exercising.

Can PFD impact fertility?

The short answer is no, PFD isn’t considered a direct cause of infertility. As a result, no single fertility treatment will be recommended to every woman with a weak pelvic floor. However, while PFD alone won’t prevent a woman from getting pregnant, the condition can make getting a positive pregnancy test result harder. Especially if the condition causes sex to be uncomfortable, the entire process of trying to conceive can be significantly more unpleasant.

The hidden risks of PFD

While PFD won’t directly impact fertility, the condition can have hidden associations that may affect a woman’s chances of conceiving. Weak pelvic muscles can sometimes be linked with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and endometriosis. Both diagnoses can make tracking ovulation difficult. The biggest risk of having PFD before conceiving is that the muscles will be further weakened in women that carry a child to full term.

Take control of pelvic health

Whether trying for a baby or not, having a weak pelvic floor isn’t a diagnosis to ignore. Individuals with PFD are encouraged to seek treatment rather than delay because of embarrassment. Left untreated, incontinence, as well as more concerning issues such as organ prolapse, can develop. Whether treatment includes Kegel exercises, medications, or even surgery for more severe cases, all people should prioritize pelvic health.

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