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What You Need to Know About Pelvic Floor Problems

What You Need To Know About Pelvic Floor Problems News

What You Need to Know About Pelvic Floor Problems

Approximately one in four women will experience a pelvic floor disorder at some point in their life. However, many people are not finding the care they need, often believing the symptoms they’re experiencing are “just part of daily life.” That doesn’t have to be the case.  

Shuqing Ding, Ph.D., L.Ac. — who practices acupuncture and Chinese medicine at the Sweere Clinic—specializes in pelvic floor conditions. With a Ph.D. in Chinese medicine, over 20 years of practice, and a background as a surgeon in China, Dr. Ding brings a wealth of experience to helping patients understand what is going wrong with their pelvic floors, and how to find relief.  

What is the pelvic floor? What can go wrong?

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support organs around the pelvis, namely the uterus, bladder, and colon. Pelvic floor dysfunction occurs when it’s difficult to control the function of your pelvic floor muscles.  

Symptoms of pelvic floor disorders include difficulty urinating or defecating, urgency to urinate or defecate, no sensation at all, or having a sensation but finding it hard to completely empty, incontinence or bulging in your lower part of the body.  

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What causes pelvic floor disorders?

Pelvic floor disorders can be caused by a myriad of factors, including childbirth, traumatic injuries (think a car accident), results of certain surgical procedures, and aging.  

For treatment to be effective, it’s important to understand the specific problem. “We have to first evaluate where the pain is,” Dr. Ding says. “Is it related to a scar or an injury? Also, we test the muscle. Is this muscle too tight or too weak? Is it from muscle tension or from nerve damage after an operation? Or because of anxiety or depression from trauma?” 

If someone is experiencing pelvic pain, the answer will mostly likely lie in one of three causes:  

  • The muscles are too tight 
  • The muscles are too weak 
  • The muscles are paradoxical, which means they can’t squeeze or relax properly because of a disconnect between the brain and the muscle 

Surface EMGs, digital exams, and manometry may help identify the specific cause.  

Kegels are not a one size fits all solution

You’ve likely heard that Kegels are the answer to pelvic floor disfunction. However, that assumes the cause is loose muscles. 

“I have found that if the symptoms are leakage, they think it’s childbirth, and assume it’s loose muscles,” Dr. Ding says. “But that’s not always the truth. We have to use a surface EMG to let the patient see that maybe it’s not too weak, it’s too tight.” 

If the muscles are too tight, strengthening them through Kegels won’t help, and could make the problem worse. That’s why it’s important to seek care from an expert who can help you determine the cause of your symptoms.

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Treating Pelvic Floor Disfunction with Chinese Medicine

Once the problem and cause are diagnosed, acupuncture and Chinese medicine work by supporting the body in holistic healing. “The body has the power to build collagen,” Dr. Ding says. “If we give a patient exercises, electrical stimulation, or acupuncture, it wakes up that self-healing system.” 

There is no one treatment that will fit all patients. Instead, the solution will be tailored to each patient’s symptoms and overall body constitution. Dr. Ding has seen great success with this approach. “At least 70% of patients work well with acupuncture and Chinese medicine together,” she shared.  

Chinese and Allopathic Medicine Working Together

With experience in both the surgery and Chinese medicine, Dr. Ding sees medical doctors and Eastern medicine practitioners as partners, not competition. “What should be the highest priority is working together for the patient’s optimal outcome,” she explained.  

She has helped patients post-surgery who are still suffering symptoms, and notes that very few individuals suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction need an operation. Every patient’s treatment plan will be different, but all would benefit from practitioners working together to determine the best approach.  

“There’s a lack of education and communication in this field,” Dr. Ding says. “Even with something like endometriosis, that’s something that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can work with to get good results.”

Practitioners in the Sweere Clinic specialize in complex conditions like pelvic floor disorders. Call 952-885-5444 to make an appointment.