What causes pelvic floor disorders?
Many things can cause or contribute to pelvic floor problems, including:
- Pregnancy and childbirth. Going through pregnancy and childbirth is a leading cause of pelvic floor problems, and the risk increases with the number of children a woman has.1 However, pelvic problems also affect women who have never been pregnant. Women who deliver vaginally are more likely than women who undergo cesarean birth to develop pelvic floor problems. The risk is even greater if forceps or a vacuum device is used during delivery.2 However, delivering via cesarean section (C-section) does not eliminate the risk of pelvic floor problems.2, 3
- Factors that put pressure on the pelvic floor. These factors include being overweight or obese, chronic constipation and straining to have a bowel movement, and chronic coughing from smoking or health problems.4
- Getting older. The pelvic floor weakens as women age.4
- Having weaker tissues. Genes and race influence the strength of a woman’s bones, muscles, and connective tissues. Women born with weaker tissues are more likely to have pelvic organ prolapse. African-American women may have a lower risk of pelvic organ prolapse than do women of other races.4
- Radiation treatment. Radiation therapy for endometrial, cervical, or other types of cancer in a woman’s pelvic region can damage pelvic floor muscles and tissues.
- Surgery. Hysterectomy (pronounced his-tuh-REK-tuh-mee) and prior surgery to correct prolapse increase the risk of PFDs.4
- Patel, D. A., Xu, X., Thomason, A. D., Ransom, S. B., Ivy, J. S., & DeLancey, J. O. (2006). Childbirth and pelvic floor dysfunction: An epidemiologic approach to the assessment of prevention opportunities at delivery. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 195, 23-28. [top]
- Handa, V. L., Blomquist, J. L., Knoepp, L. R., Hoskey, K. A., McDermott, K. C., & Munoz, A. (2011). Pelvic floor disorders 5-10 years after vaginal or cesarean childbirth. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 118, 777-784. [top]
- Borello-France, D., Burgio, K. L., Richter, H. E., Zyczynski, H., Fitzgerald, M. P., Whitehead, W., et al. (2006). Fecal and urinary incontinence in primiparous women. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 108, 863-872. [top]
- American Urogynecologic Society. (2008). Pelvic organ prolapse. Retrieved May 16, 2012, from http://www.voicesforpfd.org/p/cm/ld/fid=6 [top]
Last Updated Date: 11/30/2012
Last Reviewed Date: 11/30/2012