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Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

woman holding hands over painful pelvic floor region

Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common condition that affects many individuals, yet it often goes undiagnosed and untreated. If you're experiencing symptoms such as urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, or discomfort during sexual intercourse, you may be dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction. The good news is that effective treatment options, including physical therapy, can help alleviate these symptoms and restore your quality of life. In this blog post, we'll explore the signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction and discuss the effective treatment options available to you.

Understanding Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and tissues that support the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum. When these muscles become weak, tight, or imbalanced, it can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction. Common causes include pregnancy, childbirth, hormonal changes, surgery, certain physical activities (running, weightlifting, cycling, gymnastics, etc), and chronic conditions.

Signs and Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

1. Urinary Incontinence: The involuntary leakage of urine, which can occur during activities such as coughing, sneezing, or exercising.

2. Pelvic Pain: Persistent pain in the pelvic region, which may be experienced as a dull ache, sharp pain, or discomfort.

3. Sexual Dysfunction: Pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse, reduced sexual satisfaction, or difficulty reaching orgasm.

4. Bowel Dysfunction: Difficulty controlling bowel movements, constipation, or straining during bowel movements.

5. Pelvic Organ Prolapse: A feeling of pressure or bulging in the pelvic area, often accompanied by a sensation of something coming out of the vagina.

Effective Treatment Options for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Physical therapy plays a crucial role in treating pelvic floor dysfunction and providing long-term relief. Here are some effective treatment options:

1. Pelvic Floor Muscle Training: Your physical therapist will teach you exercises to strengthen and relax your pelvic floor muscles, helping to restore their proper function.

2. Biofeedback: This technique uses sensors to provide visual or auditory feedback, helping you gain awareness and control over your pelvic floor muscle activity.

3. Manual Therapy: Hands-on techniques, such as massage and stretching, can help release muscle tension and improve flexibility in the pelvic floor muscles.

4. Education and Lifestyle Modifications: Your physical therapist will provide guidance on healthy bladder and bowel habits, proper body mechanics, and lifestyle modifications to support pelvic floor health.

5. Relaxation Techniques: Learning relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing and mindfulness, can help reduce muscle tension and promote overall relaxation in the pelvic area.

If you're experiencing signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, seeking help from a qualified physical therapist is essential. Physical therapy offers effective and non-invasive treatment options to address pelvic floor dysfunction and improve your quality of life. By engaging in pelvic floor muscle training, utilizing biofeedback, receiving manual therapy, and adopting lifestyle modifications, you can regain control over your pelvic floor function and alleviate symptoms.

Don't hesitate to reach out to our team at Nashville Physical Therapy & Performance to schedule an appointment and start your journey toward a healthier pelvic floor. Sandy Gibson treats both female and male pelvic floor dysfunction in our West Nashville and Franklin clinics and Sara Bandy treats female pelvic floor dysfunction in our East Nashville clinic.


- Hay-Smith, E. J., et al. (2011). Pelvic floor muscle training for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (7).

- FitzGerald, M. P., et al. (2012). Update on best practice for physical therapy management of female pelvic floor disorders. Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy, 36(3), 124-144.

- Bo, K., et al. (2017). An international Urogynecological Association (IUGA)/International Continence Society (ICS) joint report on the terminology for the conservative and nonpharmacological management of female pelvic floor dysfunction. International Urogynecology Journal, 28(2), 191-213.

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