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Research

Types of Pelvic Floor Disorders

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Most Common PFDs

Terms

Item Term
Bladder Control Problems

Item Definition

These can also be called urinary incontinence and include any leaking of urine. This is caused by the bladder falling from its proper place in the body.

Item Term
Bowel Control Problems

Item Definition

These can also be called fecal incontinence. Leaking of stool, either liquid or solid, is considered a bowel control problem. This can be caused by the rectum (bottom portion of the intestine) moving from its proper place in the body or damage to the group of muscles that keep the anus closed.

Item Term
Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Item Definition

This is when one or more of the pelvic organs (bowel, bladder, sexual organs) fall out of place and move downward into the vagina. This is a result of the muscles and ligaments that hold these organs in place weakening over time.

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Prolapse simply means the slipping down or forward of an organ or body part. A pelvic organ prolapse can happen to any one of the organs in your pelvic floor. Your doctor may use different names for different types of prolapse. We have listed them here so if you hear them at your doctor’s office, you know what they mean.

  • Cystocele: the bladder dropping into the vagina
  • Urethrocele: the urethra, the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the body for urinating, bulges into the vagina
  • Enterocele: the small intestine drops and pushes the back of the vagina
  • Rectocele: the rectum, or the last portion of the small intestine which ends at the anus, bulging into the vagina
  • Uterine Prolapse: the uterus drops into the vagina
  • Vaginal Vault Prolapse: the top of the vagina drops down into the vaginal canal or outside the body
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Other Common PFD Terms

Terms

Item Term
Stress Incontinence

Item Definition

A bladder control problem that causes a leaking of urine during activities that “stress” the bladder (laughing, coughing, sneezing, heaving lifting, etc.)

Item Term
Urge Incontinence

Item Definition

Another bladder control problem that is a loss of urine after a sudden, strong urge to urinate. You may hear this called overactive bladder on medication commercials.

Item Term
Dysuria

Item Definition

Pain when urinating

Item Term
Frequency

Item Definition

Your doctor may ask your urinary frequency. This is simply the number of times you go a day.

Item Term
Constipation

Item Definition

Bowel movements less than three times per week is considered constipation, in addition to incomplete emptying of the bowel after a bowel movement, excessive straining or pushing in order to have a bowel movement, or having small, hard stools. Click here to see the Bristol Stool Form Scale, which illustrates variations in stool consistency.

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For more information...

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In 2001, NICHD established the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network to encourage collaborative research on PFDs and to improve patient care. Medical officer and gynecologist Susan Meikle, M.D., M.S.P.H., from NICHD’s Gynecologic Health and Disease Branch, oversees the network. Read the full Spotlight here.

Voices for PDF

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, Cleveland Clinic

Pelvic Floor Disorders: Condition Information. (2013, October 21). Retrieved August 10, 2015, fromhttp://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pelvicfloor/conditioninfo/Pages/default.aspx

Jelovsek, J., Maher, C., & Barber, M. (2007). Pelvic organ prolapse. Lancet, 369, 1027-1038.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2012). Frequently Asked Questions: Pelvic Support Problems.