Pelvic floor pain affects millions of people, and is especially common in women who are or who have been pregnant. Pain in the pelvic area is already very unpleasant, but can be excruciating so when you experience an acute, sharp contraction in the area that can make you stop in your tracks. If you’ve experienced this, or continue to experience it on a regular basis, it’s possible that you are feeling something called pelvic floor muscle spasms.
In this article, we hope to shed some light on pelvic floor muscles spasms: what they are, what causes them, and how you might be able to alleviate them.
What are Pelvic Floor Muscle Spasms?
Like any muscle spasm, pelvic floor muscle spasms are involuntary contractions or tightening of the muscles in the pelvic floor region. Sometimes these spasms can come without any warning at all, just like a charlie horse. You might say that a pelvic floor muscle spasm is like having a charlie horse in your vagina, which anyone could understand as being incredibly uncomfortable.
What Causes Pelvic Floor Muscle Spasms?
Pelvic floor muscle spasms usually don’t just start happening out of the blue, but start as general pain or discomfort in the pelvic region. It can be difficult to know what the specific cause is, but normally we see general muscle tension or overactivity when people experience pelvic floor muscle spasms, similar to hiccups. Several factors can contribute to the development of pelvic floor muscle spasms, and pelvic floor dysfunction in general, including:
Pelvic floor muscle spasms can occur due to muscle imbalances, weakness, or increased muscle tension. This can result from trauma, stress, anxiety, chronic pelvic pain, or overuse of the muscles.
Repetitive Strain or Injury
Activities that put excessive stress on the pelvic floor, such as high-impact exercises, heavy lifting, or prolonged sitting, can lead to muscle spasms. This is the most common cause of pelvic floor muscle spasms for men, but can certainly affect women as well.
Pelvic Floor Disorders
Conditions like pelvic floor dysfunction, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, or chronic prostatitis can contribute to pelvic floor muscle spasms.
Stress, anxiety, or emotional factors can cause muscle tension and contribute to the development of spasms in the pelvic floor muscles.
- Pelvic floor muscle pain
- Vaginal pain
- Rectal pain
- Difficulty urinating or passing bowel movement
- Painful sex
- Inability to tolerate Gyn exam
Symptoms and Effects of Pelvic Floor Muscle Spasms
Pelvic floor muscle spasms can manifest in various ways, and individuals may experience different symptoms. Common symptoms and effects of pelvic floor muscle spasms include:
Pelvic Floor Muscle Pain
Persistent or intermittent pain in the pelvic region, including the lower abdomen, pelvis, or perineum.
Vaginal and/or Rectal Pain
Instead of more generalized pain in the pelvic area, pelvic floor muscle spasms can also lead to more acute or localized pain in the vagina or rectum.
Spasms in the pelvic floor muscles can cause pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse, and can be a big factor in a person’s intimate life.
Pelvic floor muscle spasms can lead to urinary urgency, frequency, or difficulty fully emptying the bladder.
Spasms in the pelvic floor muscles can affect bowel movements, leading to constipation, difficulty passing stools, or a feeling of incomplete evacuation.
Impact on Quality of Life
Pelvic floor muscle spasms can disrupt daily activities, interfere with work productivity, limit physical functioning, and cause emotional distress.
Inability to Tolerate an Exam by an OBGYN
One symptom that may be clear can occur when you’re actually trying to find the solution. Pelvic floor muscle spasms might make it difficult for someone to be able to go through a physical gynecological exam. Luckily, your medical professional is there to help.
When to See a Physician for Pelvic Floor Muscle Spasms:
If you are experiencing persistent or bothersome symptoms related to pelvic pain or suspect pelvic floor muscle spasms, it is advisable to consult a healthcare provider. Seek medical attention if you:
- Experience chronic pelvic pain that does not improve with self-care measures.
- Notice worsening or progressive symptoms over time.
- Encounter difficulty with daily activities, including work, exercise, or sexual intercourse, due to pelvic pain.
- Have associated urinary or bowel symptoms that significantly impact your quality of life.
Treatments for Pelvic Floor Muscle Spasms
The treatment approach for pelvic floor muscle spasms aims to relieve pain, reduce muscle tension, and restore normal muscle function. Common treatment options include:
Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
Working with a specialized physical therapist can help address muscle imbalances, provide manual therapy, teach relaxation techniques, and guide you through exercises to strengthen and stretch the pelvic floor muscles. You can also try a proven, evidence based solution at-home, like Every Mother’s EMbody program.
Biofeedback techniques can assist in gaining awareness of muscle tension and learning to control and relax the pelvic floor muscles effectively.
In some cases, muscle relaxants or medications targeting nerve pain may be prescribed to alleviate symptoms and reduce muscle spasms.
Trigger Point Release
Manual therapy techniques, such as trigger point release or myofascial release, can help release muscle tension and relieve spasms in specific areas.
Incorporating stress reduction techniques, such as relaxation exercises, mindfulness, or counseling, can help manage psychological factors contributing to muscle spasms.
Heat or Cold Therapy
Applying heat or cold therapy to the pelvic area may help relax the muscles and reduce pain associated with pelvic floor muscle spasms.
Making changes to daily habits and activities can support pelvic floor muscle relaxation. This may include avoiding activities that strain the pelvic floor, maintaining good posture, practicing relaxation techniques, and adopting healthy bowel and bladder habits.
In some cases, medications such as muscle relaxants, pain relievers, or nerve modulators may be prescribed to help alleviate symptoms and reduce muscle spasms. It is important to work closely with a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate medications and their potential side effects.
Some individuals find relief from pelvic floor muscle spasms through complementary therapies like acupuncture, yoga, or mindfulness-based practices. These therapies can help reduce muscle tension, promote relaxation, and support overall well-being.
Surgical Intervention (in rare cases)
In severe cases that do not respond to conservative treatments, surgical interventions such as Botox injections, nerve blocks, or myofascial release surgery may be considered. These interventions are typically reserved for individuals who have not found relief with other treatment options, and should always be performed by a trained professional.
It is important to consult with a healthcare provider specializing in pelvic floor disorders to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for your specific condition. Treatment success often requires a combination of approaches tailored to your unique needs and circumstances. With proper care and management, pelvic floor muscle spasms can be effectively addressed, allowing for improved pain management and restored quality of life.
Try a Proven At-Home Program
Try a customized, clinically-proven program to help heal and strengthen your pelvic floor. Every Mother is a total-body, evidence-based solution that is sure to bring you results, anytime and anywhere.