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Pelvic Floor Disorders: Types & Symptoms

The majority of pelvic floor disorders stem from damage to the muscles and ligaments between the pubic bone and the coccyx bone at the tip of the spine. Normally, these muscles act as a sling to support the bladder and pelvic organs, but when they become weakened or stretched, problems can occur. Conditions treated at the Center for Pelvic Floor Disorders at Virginia Hospital Center include, but are not limited to, the following:

Pelvic Organ Prolapse

There are several types of pelvic organ prolapse, which is very common among women and occurs when the supporting tissues of the lower pelvis weaken and the female pelvic organs - which include the bladder, rectum and uterus - have fallen from their normal position down into the vagina, causing a bulge.

  • Cystocele: when the bulge involves the front of the vagina and bladder
  • Rectocele: when the bulge includes the back of the vagina and rectum
  • Enterocele: when the bulge involves the top vaginal wall and small bowel
  • Uterine Prolapse: when the uterus falls out of its normal position into the vagina
  • Rectal Prolapse: when the rectum falls completely out of the anus

Causes of pelvic organ prolapse include childbirth, constipation or straining to have bowel movements, obesity, aging, chronic coughing and heavy lifting, among others.

Urinary or Fecal Incontinence

Incontinence is the inability to control excretory functions, which may be either urinary or fecal, and is something experienced by both men and women.

  • Urinary Incontinence is the loss of voluntary bladder control leading to urine leakage. It may be temporary or chronic, and there are several types, including stress incontinence, urge incontinence, overflow incontinence and a mixture of these problems.

    It is a common condition in men who have undergone prostatectomy, as well as in women over age 55, particularly those who have had vaginal deliveries more than once.
  • Fecal Incontinence is the inability to control the bowels. Many people who have fecal incontinence also experience urinary incontinence.

    Causes may include injury to the pelvic floor due to pregnancy or vaginal delivery, constipation, surgical complications or congenital abnormality.
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