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Pelvic Health and Pelvic Floor Disorders (PFD)

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Pelvic floor disorders (PFDs) develop when the muscles that support the pelvic organs (known as the pelvic floor) become weak or damaged.

Both men and women have pelvic floors and can develop PFDs. For women, pelvic floor disorders are often caused by childbirth. While pelvic floor disorders are more common as we get older, they are not a routine part of aging.

At Baystate Health, a multidisciplinary team of experts work to diagnose and treat your symptoms. Our team of pelvic floor specialists includes:

Rely on the women’s health experts at Baystate Health for compassionate, comprehensive care. PFDs can cause personal and painful symptoms, but the right treatment can have a very positive effect on your life.


The term pelvic floor disorders typically refers to three conditions:

  • Urinary incontinence, when you can’t control your bladder
  • Fecal incontinence, when you can’t control your bowel
  • Pelvic organ prolapse, when your uterus, bladder, or bowel may drop through your vaginal canal

Depending on your symptoms, there are a variety of treatment options for pelvic floor disorders, including:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Physical therapy
  • Medication
  • Biofeedback
  • Pelvic floor surgery

What causes pelvic floor disorders?

For women, childbirth is one of the main causes of pelvic floor problems. Other causes include menopause, prior surgery or pelvic radiation, heavy lifting and straining, obesity, and aging.

According to the National Institutes of Health, almost 24% of U.S. women have one or more pelvic floor disorders.

What causes pelvic pain?

Pelvic pain comes in many different forms. It may be steady and dull. Or sharp and sudden. You may only notice pain during your period or when you have sex.

For women, pelvic pain can be a sign of trouble. If you’re suffering from pain in your lower abdomen, don’t ignore it. The women’s health care experts at Baystate can help. As the only full-service women’s health program in Western Massachusetts, we provide high-quality, comprehensive treatment options for women of all ages.


There are a wide range of conditions that cause pain in your lower torso. This means it may take time to figure out the exact cause of your pelvic pain.

Your doctor will begin by asking you to describe your pain and talking about your health history. Your doctor will also ask you about any other symptoms—whether you’re spotting between periods or if going to the bathroom hurts, for example. You may need to have diagnostic testing, such as a urine test or a pelvic ultrasound.

Possible causes of pelvic discomfort include:

  • Urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Endometriosis (tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus grows outside your uterus)
  • Adenomyosis (the inner lining of the uterus breaks through the muscle wall of the uterus)
  • Interstitial cystitis (inflamed bladder)
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Uterine fibroids (noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years)
  • Pelvic floor disorder

When should you see a doctor?

If you are having a pelvic problem like incontinence, pain, or other discomfort, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor or primary care provider.

If you’re pregnant or recently had a baby, you may also want to talk to your doctor or pelvic floor specialist about how to strengthen your pelvic floor and maintain pelvic health.