Did you know that approximately 25% of American women are affected by one or more pelvic floor disorders? ¹ Depending on the severity, pelvic floor related challenges can have a serious impact on a woman’s overall health, wellness, and happiness. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that most women aren’t familiar with the pelvic floor, despite how common challenges are, and its important function.
So first, let’s start off with what is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles in the floor of the pelvic area. These muscles support the organs in the pelvis, and some form a sling around the rectum and vagina.²
It has a pretty important role to hold up your bladder, bowel and uterus. Sometimes, our pelvic floor loses strength or doesn’t operate as it should — most commonly from normal life events like childbirth, lifting heavy objects, and anything that puts too much pressure on the muscle. Various pelvic floor conditions can have some difficult impact on day to day life including: ³
Pelvic muscle spasms
An increased need or urge to urinate, or leaky bladder
Unexplainable back pain
Women are often embarrassed by their pelvic floor challenges, or don’t know that these challenges are abnormal. For these reasons combined and more, pelvic floor disorders often go unreported. Only 17% of those with urinary incontinence seek medical help despite suffering for years. From these figures, 46% of people suffer from their symptoms for 1 to 5 years, and 42% of people suffer from their symptoms for 5 years or more. Due to the vast underreporting, another study reported that in reality 41–50% of women over 40 are affected by pelvic organ prolapse alone.⁴
And the problem is growing. The incidence of pelvic floor problems is predicted to increase by 35% between 2010–2030.⁵
Simply put, too many women suffer and will continue to suffer in silence, without intervention. And if left untreated, pelvic pain could lead to a more serious problem.
Many women try to solve the challenge with advice given pamphlets and guides from our healthcare providers or from online resource centers on pelvic floor exercises such as kegels that we may try on our own without additional support. But research shows that 50% of women trying to do pelvic floor muscle exercises from a pamphlet get the technique wrong. That is certainly ineffective, may not be the right solution for your challenge, and can even make the condition worse.⁶
But pelvic floor disorders are usually very treatable. Treatment is different depending on the type of condition or reason behind the dysfunction and may include pelvic floor training, medicine, biofeedback, and if first line intervention are not effective, surgical intervention.
The great news is that there are also a range of innovative care providers releasing technology and disruptive products that may help you tremendously. These products are working to address many of the challenges women with pelvic floor dysfunction face, from pelvic floor trainers controlled by apps to track your progress and assess if you are doing the exercises correctly to discrete internal, disposable support devices to help stop leaky bladder throughout the day. Other innovators are looking to help women feel good with absorbent panties that don’t make us feel so old like when using store bought adult diapers. They’re also helping remove the stigma that often surrounds pelvic floor dysfunction by creating community and starting dialogue to normalize these very common challenges.
And finally, our friends, family, and workplaces are getting serious about helping women thrive through more open communication about their needs. We’re proud to be a small part of that process by connecting women to technology, resources, and information.
Check out the products and apps we love to better take control of your pelvic health in 2020 and to sign up for early access to www.helahealth.io to get the latest education, information, and support from health and wellness experts and women just like you.
If you have one or more of the following symptoms listed by the NHS⁷, or you suspect you may face a pelvic floor disorder or pain such as those caused by endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease fibroids or something else, please reach out to a healthcare provider today to work towards a solution!
Leakage with coughing, sneezing, and activity which may include sexual intercourse (stress urinary incontinence)
Urgent- a sudden need to go to the bathroom that may include leakage (urge urinary incontinence)
Going to the toilet too often (frequency)
Getting up at night to go to the toilet (nocturia)
Leakage with activity or urge (anal incontience)
Difficulty getting clean after bowel movements
Leakage of wind
A feeling of something coming down or heaviness (pelvic organ prolapse)
Pain which can be vaginal or sometimes abodnomal)
Lack of sensation during sex
 Berghmans B, Nieman F, Leue C, Weemhoff M, Breukink S and Van Koeveringe G. 2016. Prevalence and triage of first contact pelvic floor dysfunction complaints in male patients referred to a Pelvic Care Centre. Neurourology and urodynamics. April,vol.35, no.4, pp.487–491.
 Pelvic Obstetric & Gynecological Physiotherapy, The Pelvic Floor Muscles- A Guide for Women, https://pogp.csp.org.uk/publications/pelvic-floor-muscle-exercises-women