Dr Preena Sivsankar from The Urology Hospital, Pretoria, says pregnancy and childbirth are a major cause of pelvic floor damage and studies show about 50% of women who have more than one child will experience some form of pelvic disorder.
A rise in prostate cancer and resultant necessary surgery has impacted on the increase in pelvic floor disorders in men as muscles around the prostate gland may be weakened during treatment, she added.
The pelvic floor refers to a supporting “hammock” of muscles around the bowel, bladder and uterus in women and the bowel, bladder and prostate in men. Research shows that pelvic floor disorders impact negatively on a person’s self-esteem, relationships with their partners and their ability to work.
Symptoms may include:
- Pain during sex
- Pain in the pelvic area
- Leaking of urine or faeces
- Difficulty emptying the bladder or bowel
- A dragging sensation or “bulge” in the rectum or vagina
- Erectile dysfunction
- Chronic prostatitis
Both women and men sometimes do not disclose this condition due to stigma, said Dr Sivsankar, adding that most conditions can be effectively treated.
Dr Sivsankar is part of a dedicated, multidisciplinary Pelvic Wellness Unit at The Urology Hospital where pelvic floor disorders are diagnosed and managed, both conservatively or surgically as required. She cautions those with symptoms to seek treatment without further delay by contacting the hospital in Pretoria.