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Pelvic Floor Dysfunction & IBD

I know so many women who have come to me with their pelvic floor therapy stories and how things are going with them. It’s hard; it can be different in every IBD patient too.

Many women who experience pelvic pain are misdiagnosed with something else and aren’t given the proper information, exercises, and follow up information to properly move on with a diagnosis they may or may not actually have.

In my experience in conferences and gatherings, women are much more open to talking about this with other women who experience something similar. At almost every single IBD function I’ve ever attended, this has come up on the side between conference goers/patients because it’s never talked about.

What is pelvic floor dysfunction?

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction can be a spectrum of terrible symptoms and it can make things like sexual intercourse or even putting a tampon in place very painful. For years, I thought that was normal. This is far from the truth. (Raise your hand now if this applies to you!)

Pelvic floor dysfunction can be caused by many things, including complications of IBD surgeries. Raise your hand if your GI or colorectal surgeon told you about that. From what I hear, and have experienced, it’s not at commonly talked about as it should be.

According to Cleveland Clinic, “Pelvic floor dysfunction is the inability to correctly tighten and relax the pelvic floor muscles to have a bowel movement”1. Some of the symptoms most commonly observed are being constipated, bowel incontinence, and even urine incontinence at times. The most well known obvious symptom is painful intercourse for many people. For too many of us, if it’s not asked about, we don’t bring it up.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, please don’t let them go unheard.

Talk to your doctor if this is happening

If your GI hasn’t brought it up to you and you are experiencing painful sex or any of the above symptoms or you feel like this may be an issue related to other conditions, please see your specialist (OBGyn, CRS, GI, reproductive specialist).

Cleveland Clinic helps define normal pelvic floor functions compared to some of us who have been impacted by dysfunction. “By contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, you enable bowel and bladder movements. Men and women with this dysfunction contract the muscles rather than relax them. This is painful, uncomfortable and takes a lot of work to “reverse”.

Chronic constipation can play a role. Sexual intercourse can play a big role. The tilt or anatomy of how your organs have matured can play a considerable role. Weakened muscles from an inflammatory condition or surgeries can result in pelvic floor dysfunction.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. (2017, December 12). Retrieved June 10, 2019, from
  2. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2019, from
  3. Treating patients with pelvic floor dysfunction. (n.d.). Retrieved June 10, 2019, from


  • motherfish
    6 months ago

    Thanks for bringing this up.

  • Julie Marie Palumbo moderator
    6 months ago

    THANK YOU for writing this!! I had suffered from Painful Bladder Syndrome (or IC) back in 2017 and it was awful. I also experienced painful intercourse for more than a year and even needed to get a nerve block to relieve me of the pain.

    I went to PT and acupuncture regularly, and it finally subsided a year ago. It is definitely something that no one wants to talk about, but my GI was familiar with it and I am glad I spoke up so that my urogynecologist, ob-gyn, and GI were all on the same page in treating me. It is seriously one of the worst side effects I have had with my Crohn’s Disease and I do not wish it on anyone!

    –Julie (Team Member)

  • Kelly C (#purpleproject) moderator author
    6 months ago

    Aw Julie – it breaks my heart knowing how many women (and yes, even men) who go through this so silently. Some of us who have no even had any major bowel surgeries still struggle with this. I’ve struggled since my first rectal surgery & it’s about time we talk about it on a regular basis. It’s not something that just folks with IBD are affected. (I also have endo, so I empathize with your IC) – I don’t wish these issues on anyone, especially those with and without partners.

    Thanks for your response!!! Can I ask that now that things have calmed down what kind of treatment you’re still currently doing or is it more of when it acts up? For me, I need constant PT or I completely lose control.

    Best, Kel

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