Types of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: A Guide

Pelvic floor dysfunction in general encompasses a large group of varying issues related to the pelvic floor. It's important to know the various types of pelvic floor dysfunction to help understand how to help it. These issues stem from some type of problem with the muscles of the pelvic floor. If you've been diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction, it usually means your doctor has ruled out any medical cause for your symptoms. Pelvic floor dysfunction as a diagnosis means that the muscles of the pelvic floor, abdomen, diaphragm and more are not working quite they way they should or coordinating well. When these muscles aren't working properly, it can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction.

Types of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

There are different categories of pelvic floor dysfunction. Therefore, in order to better understand the types of pelvic floor dysfunction, I've separated them into 4 categories.

Urinary/ Bladder Issues

Urinary and/or bladder issues include issues, not surprisingly, with peeing. While the bladder itself can be a culprit, oftentimes inability of the pelvic floor to squeeze or relax also plays a role. Common urinary and bladder issues seen include:

  • Stress Urinary Incontinence- leaking urine when you cough, laugh, or sneeze
  • Urgency (needing to get to the bathroom IMMEDIATELY)
  • Hesitancy- difficulty starting the flow of urine
  • Mixed incontinence- a combination of urgency and stress incontinence

Bowel Issues

Bowel issues in regards to pelvic floor dysfunction involve issues with pooping. Subsequently, this can include a range of issues from straining to poop to leaking stool.

  • Constipation
  • Inability to hold back gas
  • Stool leakage

Pelvic/ Hip/ Back Pain

Pain related to pelvic floor dysfunction may not only cause pain in the pelvis. Pain that is related to the pelvic floor may cause pain in the following areas or with the following activities:

  • Pelvic Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Hip Pain
  • Pain with intercourse
  • pain with tampons or gynecological exams


Prolapse refers to the descent of internal organs downward. This happens because the pelvic floor is not functioning properly to support the organs.

  • Can occur with the uterus, vagina, or rectum
  • Pressure due to organs descending

Signs of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

It's well and good to know about the types of pelvic floor dysfunction, but what are some common signs or symptoms people experience with pelvic floor dysfunction?

  • Urine leaking when you’re exercising
  • Urgency- not making it or barely making it to the toilet
  • Constipation- difficulty or a lot of straining, unable to pass stool
  • Passing gas and not being able to control it
  • Bulge at the vaginal opening
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Difficulty with tampons
  • Abdominal Pain or pressure

Treatment for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

If you find that you have a pelvic floor issue or are diagnosed with one that is negatively impacting your daily life, it's important to seek help from a professional for treatment. A trained pelvic floor therapist can help assess and treat the issue at hand with expertise. Some of the treatment may include the following:

  • Behavior/ Habit Changes. For example, changing your pattern of straining with pooping or straining to urinate.
  • Relaxation Techniques. Learning techniques to relax the muscles of the pelvic floor and body are integral to improving pelvic floor function
  • Learning how to breathe correctly.
  • Strengthening of the pelvic floor and surrounding areas.
  • Changing movement patterns.
  • Pelvic floor therapy- all of this and more is what a pelvic floor therapist can help guide you through!


Check out these websites with information for pelvic floor therapists near you:

Herman and Wallace

APTA Pelvic Health Locator


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