One in five women and men in the United States suffer from some sort of pelvic floor disorder during their lifetime. Pelvic floor disorders more often affect women than men, mostly due to their anatomy and also the pressures and trauma of pregnancy and childbirth. In fact, half of women over age 55 have a pelvic floor disorder.
At Colon and Rectal Surgeons of Greater Hartford, our colorectal experts diagnose and treat pelvic floor dysfunction at our offices in Bloomfield, South Windsor, and Plainville, Connecticut. One of the most effective treatments for pelvic floor dysfunction is biofeedback. Here’s how and why it works.
Your pelvic floor is made of muscle
All the organs in your genitourinary tract are supported by a muscular sling called the pelvic floor. The muscles and connective tissue that make up your pelvic floor support your:
- Vagina and uterus (women)
- Prostate (men)
Due to age, trauma, or an inherent weakness, your pelvic floor may not properly support these organs. When your organs aren’t supported, and the muscles that support them are lax, you may have a variety of problems, including problems with elimination such as constipation and/or urinary incontinence.
You can rehabilitate your pelvic floor
You’ve probably heard of Kegel exercises. Women who leak urine or have other forms of urinary incontinence are often advised to do Kegels. Men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which also affects urination, benefit from Kegels, too.
However, Kegels are difficult to perform correctly without the guidance of a physical therapist who specializes in the pelvic floor. Depending on the level of your pelvic floor dysfunction, Kegels may also be insufficient to resolve pelvic floor dysfunctions such as:
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Pelvic urinary incontinence
- Pelvic fecal incontinence
- Pelvic pain
- Chronic constipation
- Other functional fecal disorders
Biofeedback is a type of pelvic floor training that uses a sensor and a monitor to help you identify behaviors that may contribute to your constipation or incontinence. Biofeedback also teaches you how to use your pelvic floor muscles correctly.
Biofeedback teaches you to isolate muscles
Your nurse places the sensor in your anus while you hand-hold the connected monitor. They then guide you through a series of exercises that teach you the difference between contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles.
You can see the result of your efforts on the monitor. The visual feedback helps you see the effects your efforts have on your muscles. Your nurse also gives you exercises to strengthen the muscles so they support your rectum and other organs.
Once you’re comfortable flexing and relaxing your pelvic floor, you may also practice passing “stools” during biofeedback. The stools are actually just water-filled balloons that we place in your anus.
You learn to relax your rectal muscles so that the “stools” pass easily, without effort or straining. We can also give you the biofeedback sensor and monitor so you can practice at home.
Biofeedback puts you back in control
By using biofeedback to isolate and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, you’re better able to control when and how you pass stools. In one biofeedback study with 282 patients, 94% improved their colorectal symptoms after two weeks of biofeedback training.
If you have constipation or fecal incontinence caused by pelvic floor dysfunction, find out if biofeedback can help you regain control by booking a consultation today. Call our team at 860-242-8591, or schedule an appointment online.