Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Symptoms can range from subtle to severe. The symptom most commonly associated with pelvic floor dysfunction is incontinence. While symptoms such as urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence (also known as bowel incontinence), may be caused as a result of pelvic floor dysfunction, there are other causes leading to them as well.

In fact, not every incontinence case is from pelvic floor dysfunction and incontinence does not need to be present for pelvic floor dysfunction to exist. 

In order to recognize pelvic floor dysfunction, we need to understand where the pelvic floor is since it is more than the area between the vagina/penis and the anus.

Where is the Pelvic Floor?

Imagine a paper bag with a top. The OUTSIDE of the bottom of the bag is the area between the anus and the vagina/penis with muscles and sphincters. The INSIDE of the bottom part is where quite a few muscles, connective tissues, and ligaments that hold the pelvis together lie. 

The front of the bag is the abdominal muscles, the sides of the bag are the oblique abdominal muscles, and the back of the bag is the lower back and the lower part of the mid-back muscles. The top of the bag is the abdominal diaphragm and the contents inside the pelvis are the bladder, uterus, ovaries, prostate, and intestines. Finally, the 4 corners of the bottom of the bag are the front and back part of the hips connected to the pelvis.

What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

Now that you know what the pelvic floor looks like, you can see that pelvic floor dysfunction is not always isolated to the bottom of the bag!! Anything that impacts all the other parts of the bag, connected to the bottom of the bag can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction. With that said, let’s explore some obvious and some not-so-obvious symptoms associated with pelvic floor dysfunction.

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Obvious Signs and Symptoms

As stated above, while the following are symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, they can have other causations as well, however, when present over time, they all lead to pelvic floor dysfunction. For instance, a skiing injury can cause a knee injury that may even be rehabilitated but the fact that only the knee was rehab’d (assuming that even took place) and not the whole movement of the body restored, it is easy to have a dysfunction of the lower extremity leading to a pull on the ‘floor’ of the metaphoric bag example, leading to pelvic floor dysfunction!

Following symptoms are what most people either know or associate with pelvic floor disorder or pelvic floor dysfunction:

  • Urinary incontinence
  • Fecal incontinence or Bowel incontinence
  • Prolapse of uterus
  • Bladder prolapse
  • Bladder pain syndrome or Interstitial Cystitis
  • Hemorrhoid
  • Feeling pain in the pelvic area with or without going to the bathroom

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Subtle Signs and Symptoms

  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in the back joints of the pelvis (SI Joints)
  • Pain in the front pubic area
  • Arched lower back
  • Slouched lower back
  • Slouched mid-back or hunchback
  • Military posture with the chest pushed out
  • A V-stance where the torso is positioned behind the hip joints on the side view
  • Chronic forward neck
  • Inability to bend down below the knees
  • Habitually standing on one leg with the other leg bent 
  • Chronic one-sided pain in the lower extremity
  • Hip pain on one or both sides

Now that you understand where the pelvic floor is and how it is impacted by all that is connected to it, make sure you visit the other blogs written about the pelvic floor and its related information. What makes almost all treatments of pelvic floor dysfunction not be fully effective is the mistake of only treating it partly. An effective treatment is not just resolving the pain but removing the cause AND all that feed the cause of the problem.

You don’t have to suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction and submit yourself to the limiting lifestyle that comes with it. 

Dr. Shakib