• Emily Reul, PT, DPT

5 Myths About Aging and the Pelvic Floor--Debunked!

Hello friends! Happy National Healthy Aging Month! To celebrate, we are going to debunk 5 common myths about aging.


MYTH #1: PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE (POP) ONLY HAPPENS TO OLDER WOMEN.


Truth: Up to 50% of women that give birth will have prolapse.


What is pelvic organ prolapse? Pelvic organ prolapse is the descent of the bladder, uterus, or rectum into the vaginal canal due to insufficient support. Where does that support come from? You may have guessed it—the pelvic floor muscles! The pelvic floor muscles play a large role in supporting the pelvic organs and are helped by ligaments and other structures.

Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) is the #1 recommended intervention for pelvic organ prolapse. It helps increase muscle thickness, elevates the bladder neck, decreases muscle length, reduces symptoms, and much more. A trained pelvic floor physical therapist can help you properly exercise these muscles.


MYTH #2: URINE LEAKAGE IS A NATURAL PART OF LIFE.


While age can be a risk factor for urinary incontinence, that does not mean you will become incontinent or that there are no treatment options available. Studies have shown that pelvic floor muscle strength can improve incontinence symptoms. (Siracusa, 2018)


There are many medical conditions common among older individuals that can make you more susceptible to urinary incontinence. Some of these conditions include: having a hysterectomy, menopause, estrogen/progesterone hormone replacement, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), COPD, congestive heart failure (CHF), asthma, constipation, circulation problems, and so much more. (Siracusa, 2018)

Remember: urinary leakage (even just a drop or two) is a sign that the pelvic floor muscles are not working the way they should.


There are two main types of incontinence. Stress incontinence is when the pelvic floor muscles aren’t strong enough and/or don’t do the right thing at the right time which allows urine to leak out. Urge incontinence is leakage that is accompanied by a strong sense of urgency to use the bathroom. This is often caused by the bladder contracting when it shouldn’t. As you age, you are more likely to get mixed incontinence which is a combination of noth stress and urge incontinence. (Siracusa, 2018)


A pelvic floor physical therapist can help you determine which type of incontinence you have and develop a treatment plan individualized to you.

MYTH #3: YOU CAN’T HAVE ENJOYABLE SEX AS YOU GET OLDER.


There are a few different reasons why sex may not be as enjoyable.


Hormonal changes with menopause can cause vaginal dryness—ouch! You can use vaginal moisturizers like Good Clean Love, lubricants like coconut oil, or prescription estrogen creams.


These hormonal changes can also lead to decreased muscle tone of the pelvic floor. (Siracusa, 2018) As the pelvic floor muscles become weak and uncoordinated, they aren’t able to perform the necessary functions of helping with clitoral erections, orgasm, and support in females. For males, these muscles help to achieve and maintain an erection and can help with orgasm. Pelvic floor muscle training can help to get these muscles strong and coordinated so that you can enjoy sex!


MYTH #4: AS I GET OLDER, I WON’T BE ABLE TO HOLD IN GAS OR POOP.