Pelvic Floor Disorders: What Every Woman Needs to Know

Dennis Pippenger, MD
Riverview Health Physicians OB/GYN

Quick! What do coughing, laughing and sneezing have in common? If you answered that they can trigger the need for a bathroom right now, you already know some symptoms of pelvic floor disorder. But did you also know that pelvic floor disorders affect up to 50% of women?

What’s a pelvic floor, anyway?

Pelvic floor muscles act as a kind of “hammock” that keeps your organs—bladder, uterus and rectum—in place. Disorders can occur when tissues protrude abnormally because weakened pelvic muscles can’t support the weight of these organs.

Identify your pelvic muscles by trying this: The next time you’re in the bathroom, stop the flow of urine and then allow it to continue. There they are: your pelvic floor muscles in action—or lack of it! Your age, vaginal deliveries and weight issues, including obesity, all contribute to pelvic floor disorders whose symptoms include:

  • A feeling of heaviness
  • Pulling, aching or bulging sensation
  • Frequent urination or painful urination
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Incontinence

To prevent pelvic floor disorders, try Kegel exercises that involve tightening and relaxing pelvic muscles. Get started with these tips:

  1. Empty your bladder.
  2. Tighten your pelvic muscles and hold for 4 to 5 seconds; work up to 10 seconds.
  3. Slowly release the muscles; relax for 10 seconds.
  4. Repeat 10 to 15 times, three times a day.

Above all, don’t be shy. Talk to your healthcare provider about any pelvic health symptoms you may have. Remember, nearly half of all women are dealing with the same issues, so your provider has heard it all—and has plenty of valuable advice to share.


To schedule an appointment with an OB/GYN, call Riverview Health Physicians OB/GYN at 317.584.5762.