Did you know that 76% of women will experience some sort of lower urinary tract dysfunction (stress incontinence, urgency, voiding issues), and 19% will experience pain during sex related to their pelvic floor (Faubion, S. 2012) .
We have all heard of having a weak pelvic floor, and there are many apps, devices and exercises such a kegels to help strengthen this.
Did you know that some women have an overactive pelvic floor, not an under-active one.
What is an overactive pelvic floor?
Every muscle in our body has something called 'resting tone'. This is the amount of tension that is in a muscle when it is not being used. If you think of someone with a six pack they have high levels of tone in their muscles to create that recognisable shape. The pelvic floor can be the same, where the resting tone of the muscle is higher than normal. This can cause issues for many women.
How do I know if I have one?
The best way to know if you have an overactive pelvic floor is to go and see a medical professional such as a women's health physiotherapist. These specialist physiotherapists will be able to provide an internal examination along with other assessment techniques to determine if this is the case.
However there are some symptoms that might indicate an overactive pelvic floor. Common symptoms are:
- Difficulty trying to activate your pelvic floor
- Pain during sex or insertion of tampons
- Slower urinary flow or a feeling of incomplete emptying (if this is the case please get in touch with a medical professional urgently to rule out more serious conditions such as cauda equina)
- Increased urgency to urinate
- Increased frequency of urination
- Pain in the urethra, vagina or rectum
What are the causes of overactive pelvic floor?
There are many causes to an overactive pelvic floor, these are some of the more common ones:
- Performing too difficult core exercises or weights exercises regularly that put too much pressure on the pelvic floor
- Over doing pelvic floor exercises or pelvic holds during exercise without proper relaxation
- Post pelvic surgery such as prolapse repair or hysterectomy
- Recurrent infections such as cystitis or thrush
- Pelvic trauma
If you think you have an overactive pelvic floor, speak to a women's health physiotherapist. They will be able to assess you and create an individualised rehab programme to relieve many of the symptoms listed above and more!