These complications include:
- Bowel issues: Constipation, straining to empty bowels, incomplete emptying of stool and beginning bowel movement. Straining due to constipation can lead to further complications such as haemorrhoids, anal fissures and prolapse of the rectum.
- Bladder issues: Struggling to start urine flow, incomplete bladder emptying, slow urine flow and urinary urgency.
- Sexual issues: The pelvic floor muscles spasm involuntarily before vaginal penetration, preventing sexual intercourse, gynaecological examination and insertion of a tampon. Due to the inability to have sexual intercourse, some individuals may begin to suffer from anxiety and depression as well as have difficulties with their relationship.
- Ongoing pain and discomfort: Aches, pains and discomfort in the lower abdomen or around the anus and vagina.
- Pelvic floor muscle weakness: Unintentional leakage of urine when exercising or during other activities (stress incontinence) and prolapse of the vagina.
Pelvic floor muscles function like other muscles in the body; they can become tight when they are overactive, causing women to subconsciously tighten their pelvic floor muscles further, which leads to a cycle of pelvic pain.
Women may also experience spasming in their pelvic floor muscles, which can be induced by the following:
- Neglecting to allow the pelvic floor muscles to relax after performing pelvic floor exercises
- Exhausting the pelvic floor muscles through intense abdominal core exercises
- Reoccurring infections or inflammations in the pelvis
- Pelvic surgery such as prolapse surgery and hysterectomy
- Emotional or mental factors
- Postural problems
- Pelvic trauma
Deep breathing exercises:
- When sitting or standing straighten your back and lift the crown of your head
- Lay your hands on either side of your lower rib age
- Deeply inhale – as your rib cage expands your hands should move outwards and your stomach should move outwards
- Exhale slowly until your rib cage has returned to its resting position
- Repeat these steps until you feel deeply relaxed
Lower abdominal muscle relaxation – this exercise helps you relax your pelvic floor muscles:
- Lay your hands across your lower abdomen
- If you stand or sit, make sure to have an upright posture
- Feel your lower abdominal wall relax and extend outwards into your hands
- Lower abdominal relaxation can be achieved by exercising deep breathing simultaneously
Pelvic floor muscle relaxation:
- See a pelvic floor physiotherapist for individual instructions that you can conduct in your own time
- Regular pelvic floor massages from a pelvic floor physiotherapist can also help relax the pelvic floor muscles