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Pelvic floor weakness: Four myths

July 19, 2012

Awareness is sometimes 90 percent of our understanding. Yet it is that remaining 10 percent, what we don’t know, that colors our perceptions.

Consider pelvic floor weakness. Up until just a few years ago, many women never heard the term. But that does not mean the condition never existed, and thanks to medical attention and awareness campaigns, more women are seeking and getting treatment.

Pelvic floor weakness often results when the weight-bearing or stabilizing structures that keep the vagina and nearby organs in place weaken or deteriorate. Common causes include pregnancy, obesity, a hysterectomy or menopause.

These causes are pretty common, but the nature of the condition leads to many distressing misconceptions. So I decided to take on four of the biggest myths and dispel them.

  • Pelvic floor weakness occurs only in women who have had children: All women are susceptible and, for that matter, even men have pelvic floors and can experience pelvic floor spasm or pain. But it is true that women who have had children are more likely to experience pelvic floor weakness or prolapse.
  • Caesarean section deliveries prevent pelvic floor weakness: This is not necessarily true, since the cause of pelvic floor weakness or prolapse is associated with the added weight and pressure of carrying a child to full term. The actual mode of delivery is not proven to be a component or contributing factor.
  • There are no treatments: There are several was to treat pelvic floor weakness, both medically and holistically. Kegel exercises, for instance, may help to treat stress incontinence that results from pelvic floor weakness. If the patient suffers pelvic floor prolapse –usually a “tear” in the pelvic support resulting from pregnancy  — surgery or a pessary device can help to remedy the condition. Also, despite alternative treatments, pelvic mesh is still used frequently across the country because of its theoretical durability.
  • Your organs will “fall out”: One of the most worrisome symptoms of prolapse is that organs may fall out through the vagina. This is not the case. For instance, in bladder prolapse (cystocele), the back wall of the bladder may drop or bulge into (or even out of) the vagina, but the bladder will not fall out completely.

To learn more about pelvic floor weakness, visit our conditions page, which includes causes, symptoms and treatments of various forms of pelvic floor prolapse and weakness.

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