Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

What is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

The pelvic floor refers to a group of muscles and other soft tissues forming a sling-shaped structure that creates a “floor” for your abdomen. These muscles hold your uterus, vagina, bladder, urethra, and rectum in place and support their functioning.

Pelvic floor dysfunction occurs when the pelvic floor muscles can’t do their jobs because they’re weak or damaged. The three primary problems that develop due to pelvic floor dysfunction include:

  • Urinary Incontinence: Lack of bladder control, causing involuntary urine leakage
  • Fecal Incontinence: Lack of bowel control, causing stool leakage
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse: One or more pelvic organs drop toward the vagina, causing a bulge in the vaginal canal

What Causes Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

The most common causes of stretched, weakened, and damaged pelvic floor muscles include:

  • Vaginal childbirth

  • Pregnancy

  • Overweight

  • Age-related changes

  • Repeated heavy lifting

  • Straining during bowel movements

  • Surgery

  • Radiation treatment

What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?

Pelvic floor physical therapy incorporates exercises and other treatments designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, improve their function, and relieve your pain. Your therapy includes at-home exercises and in-office treatments.

Conditions such as urinary or fecal incontinence, voiding dysfunction, prenatal, postpartum, pelvic floor therapy, or postoperative pelvic pain, painful intercourse, constipation, and urinary retention can be treated with physical therapy. Lower back and core muscle problems often occur along with or as a result of these conditions. The application of physical therapy has revolutionized the treatment of pelvic floor disorders providing relief to many long-suffering women. Treatments such as behavioral therapy, computerized biofeedback, vaginal cones, tissue massage, dry needling, trigger point release, cupping, TENS, and electrical stimulation are used by our physical therapist to treat these and other pelvic floor problems.

Pelvic floor and core exercise is an important part of pelvic floor physical therapy. Muscle weakness, tightness, spasm, and/or imbalances can make it difficult for you to control your bladder or bowel, or it may be a cause of pelvic pain. Our physical therapist will identify your specific problem areas and design an individualized home exercise program to correct them. You will be expected to perform the exercise daily at home and will be progressed each time you see the therapist, if you are compliant with the home program.


Your physical therapy may include one or more of the following:

Biofeedback - Biofeedback uses sensors to monitor pelvic floor muscle activity as you relax and contract the muscles, providing immediate feedback that tells Dr. Owens whether you’re exercising the right muscles for an optimal length of time. This technique leads to improved function in more than 75% of patients with pelvic floor dysfunction.

Pelvic floor and core muscle exercise - Includes exercises to strengthen, relax, and retrain muscles so you can control your bowel or bladder incontinence.

Bladder retraining - Methods to retrain your bladder include scheduled bathroom visits, delayed urination, and exercises.

Therapeutic ultrasound - Sound waves promote tissue healing, improve scar tissue flexibility, and relieve pain.

Electric stimulation - This noninvasive and painless treatment activates the nerves and muscles of the pelvic floor. Electric stimulation rehabilitates weak muscles, relaxes involuntary bladder contractions, and reduces pain.

Dry needling - Trigger points — painful, sensitive areas of tight muscles — are relieved when Dr. Owens inserts a thin needle into the muscle to relieve tension.

Dr. Owens takes a practical approach that’s tailored to each woman’s individual needs. He creates a treatment plan to overcome pelvic floor dysfunction using functional therapies in addition to medicine and surgery.

If you struggle with incontinence or pelvic pain, call the compassionate staff at Advanced Pelvic Surgery or use online booking to schedule an appointment. With more than 20 years of experience in urogynecology, Dr. Owens proudly accepts even the most hard-to-treat cases.