What are pelvic floor disorders?

The term “pelvic floor” refers to the group of muscles that form a sling or hammock across the opening of a woman’s pelvis. These muscles, together with their surrounding tissues, keep all of the pelvic organs in place so that the organs can function correctly.

A pelvic floor disorder occurs when the pelvic muscles and connective tissue in the pelvis weaken or are injured.

An estimated one-third of all U.S. women are affected by one type of pelvic floor disorder in their lifetime. Disorders may result from pelvic surgery, radiation treatments, and, in some cases, pregnancy or vaginal delivery of a child.

What are the most common pelvic floor disorders?

There are a variety of problems related to the pelvic floor. The most common include:

  • Pelvic organ prolapse – A prolapse occurs when the pelvic muscles and tissue become weak and can no longer hold the organs in place correctly. In uterine prolapse, the uterus can press down on the vagina, causing it to invert, or even to come out through the vaginal opening. In vaginal prolapse, the top of the vagina loses support and can drop through the vaginal opening.
    • Some symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse may include:
      • A feeling of heaviness or fullness or as if something falling out of the vagina.
      • Some women also feel a pulling or aching or a “bulge” in the lower abdomen or pelvis.
      • Prolapse may also cause a kinking in the urethra, making it harder for a woman to empty her bladder completely, or causing frequent urinary tract infections.