Stress and its Impact on Pelvic Floor
We know that stress can have a physical impact as well as an emotional impact on our bodies. During the coronavirus pandemic, we saw an increase in a number of patients with pelvic floor dysfunction. When we are stressed, some of us tend to clench pelvic floor muscles, sometimes without us even knowing it.
Stress and clenching can increase pelvic floor muscle hypertonicity, which is an overactivity of the muscles and inability of the muscles to contract and relax properly. If we are constantly clenching our pelvic floor muscles, those muscles become unable to relax when they need to, therefore leading to decreased coordination and increased weakness in these muscles. This can lead to pelvic pain, hip pain, pain with intercourse, urinary incontinence, urinary urgency and other conditions.
For patients who have hypertonic pelvic floor muscles, I usually recommend yoga, warm baths, meditation and deep breathing exercises, when appropriate. This can help decrease stress levels and can improve the ability for pelvic floor muscles to relax. Seeking health from a mental health therapist is always helpful as well, as they can give us techniques on how to manage stress and anxiety.
Dr. Krisia Gattas, PT, DPT