What is pelvic floor dysfunction?

When you are unable to control the muscles in your pelvic floor to have a bowel movement, it is called pelvic floor dysfunction. People with pelvic floor dysfunction contract these muscles rather than relax them. Because of this, they cannot have a bowel movement, or they have an incomplete one.

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles in your pelvic area. These muscles support the organs in your pelvis like a sling. The organs in this area include the bladder, uterus (women), prostate (men), and rectum (the area at the end of the large intestine where your body stores solid waste). By contracting and relaxing these muscles, you control your bowel and bladder movements.

What causes pelvic floor dysfunction?

Most of the causes of pelvic floor dysfunction are unknown. Traumatic injuries to the pelvic area, such as in an accident, and complications from vaginal childbirth can contribute to this condition.

What are the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction?

Several symptoms may suggest pelvic floor dysfunction. If you have any of these, you should discuss them with your physician. Some symptoms may also indicate other conditions, but a complete physical exam should be able to determine what is causing your symptoms.

Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • The feeling that you need to have several bowel movements during a short period of time.
  • The feeling that you cannot complete a bowel movement.
  • Constipation or straining pain with bowel movements.
  • A frequent need to urinate. When you do go, you may stop and start many times.
  • Painful urination.
  • Pain in your lower back that cannot be explained by other causes.
  • Ongoing pain in your pelvic region, genitals, or rectum.
  • Pain for women during intercourse.