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Pelvic relaxation is a medical condition that occurs when a woman's pelvic floor muscles become weak or damaged. Some mild occurrences of this disorder may not have any symptoms, but more severe cases of pelvic relaxation can be quite uncomfortable. It can also lead to other, more serious, medical conditions, including a prolapsed bladder or uterus. Treatment often includes exercises to strengthen these muscles, and possible medications and surgery.
In a woman, the pelvic floor muscles help support and hold up the bladder and uterus. When these muscles get damaged or become stretched, the pelvic floor will sag. This is known as pelvic relaxation, and it can sometimes lead to a prolapsed bladder or uterus.
Uterine prolapse occurs when the uterus sags into the vaginal canal, and a bladder prolapse occurs when the bladders sags into the vaginal canal. In some more severe cases, these organs may be seen protruding out of the vaginal opening. Other organs, like the large intestine or the rectum, may also sag in more severe cases of pelvic relaxation.
Pelvic relaxation can be uncomfortable for many woman. Some of the more common signs include pain in the vagina, groin, abdomen, and lower back. Some women may also feel a pressure pushing down in their vagina, like something is being pushed out. Passing stools may also be difficult for some women dealing with pelvic relaxation.
Urinary incontinence is another common sign of pelvic relaxation. Many woman will find that it is difficult to control their bladders, especially during sudden strains. Sneezing or coughing can sometimes lead to urine leaking out of the bladder.
Aging is often considered to be one of the most common causes of pelvic relaxation. Older women, especially those who have gone through menopause, are more at risk of developing this condition. After menopause, a woman's estrogen levels decline, which often causes the muscles to become less toned. Heavy strains, such as childbirth, can also cause the pelvic floor muscles to become damaged or stretched.
Many women dealing with pelvic relaxation find certain pelvic floor exercises helpful, especially for bladder control. Exercising these muscles can tighten them back up. Kegel exercises are the most popular, which involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles repeatedly.
More severe cases of pelvic relaxation may require a device known as a pessary. This is a device shaped like a ring. It is inserted into the vagina, and helps support the organs, preventing them from falling into the vaginal canal. Other women may require surgery to repair damaged muscles. Sometimes doctors may perform a procedure to completely remove the uterus, known as a hysterectomy.