It is common to suggest Kegel exercises when it comes to maintaining vaginal and pelvic health, but for some people, Kegel exercises may aggravate their pelvic condition. Overactive, or hypertonic, pelvic floor is a type of that occurs when the pelvic floor muscles (PFMs) are in a constant state of contraction and are unable to fully relax. Tense PFMs can lead to rather painful and uncomfortable symptoms if not treated.
An overactive pelvic floor can be caused by many different variables including:
- Trauma: A fall that causes the PFMs to tighten protectively or sexual abuse.
- Injury: PFMs can tighten as a way to compensate for a hip, knee, or ankle injury.
- Stress: As a response to stress, tension can be held in the PFMs.
- Posture: Dancers, gymnasts and personal trainers may experience hypertonic PFMs from constantly tightening their abdominal muscles and buttocks through good posture and learned behavior.
- Bladder or Bowel Dysfunction: Chronic constipation or urgency/frequency of urination can cause overactive PFMs as the muscle must remain engaged to hold your urine in.
Causes of overactive pelvic floor muscles can lead to mild symptoms at first, but they can worsen over time. It is important to identify if you have hypertonic pelvic floor muscles as soon as possible so you can retrain your body to exist in a more relaxed state. There are many signs of overactive PFMs with the three most common being pelvic pain, urinary issues, and painful sex.
Pelvic pain affects 1 in 5 women. That means you probably encounter multiple women a day who suffer from pelvic pain. Pelvic pain can start in the digestive, reproductive, or urinary system and can feel very similar to a menstrual cramp. The pain is not always localized and can occur in the urethra, vagina, rectum, or lower abdomen. Pelvic pain related to overactive PFMs occurs as a result of the muscles staying engaged and working overtime, especially during times when they would normally be relaxed.
Constantly holding your PFMs in a contracted state can lead to slow urinary flow and feelings of not being able to completely empty your bladder. If you have the frequent need or urgency to urinate, you may hold your pelvic floor muscles tighter and for longer durations of time. This can lead to overactive PFMs even in instances where you do not feel the need to go.
When you have hypertonic PFMs, it can be difficult to have comfortable sex. When your muscles are relaxed, your body accepts penetration, but when you are holding your muscles tightly, whether you mean to or not, penetration can become forced, leading to pain. If you experience pain during penetration at the vaginal entrance, inability to accept penetration, inability to orgasm, abdominal and pelvic pain during sex, or vaginal aching, you may have overactive PFMs.
The most effective way to treat hypertonic PFMs is through physiotherapy and using practices and techniques including:
- Belly breathing and relaxing techniques
- Internal and external vaginal or rectal myofascial release therapy
- Calming your nervous system through mindfulness, yoga, and meditation
- Focused stretches
Are you suffering from symptoms that you think might be caused by overactive pelvic floor muscles? Tideline Center for Health & Aesthetics offers relief from pelvic pain, urinary issues, painful sex, and other conditions. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
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