An increasing number of youngsters in the UAE are suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction caused by chronic straining from constipation, according to experts at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of Mubadala’s healthcare network.
The pelvic floor is the group of muscles and ligaments that acts as a sling to support the pelvic organs, including the bladder, rectum, and uterus or prostate. Having strong pelvic floor muscles allows for control over the bladder and bowel movement. The inability to correctly control or coordinate the muscles in this area can cause difficulty. Most common causes of weakened pelvic floor muscles are childbirth, surgeries, obesity and straining due to chronic constipation.
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi experts say they are now seeing patients as young as 18 seek treatment for pelvic floor disorders caused due to poor habits. The Pelvic Floor Programme at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi includes colorectal surgeons, gastroenterologists, urologists, physical therapists, radiologists, and nursing staff.
“We often see young patients have poor eating habits with too much junk food and not enough fibre in their diet, lack of exercise and stress, which are common causes of constipation,” says Dr Lameese Tabaja, a colorectal surgeon at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Digestive Disease Institute, who is also part of the multidisciplinary team for the Pelvic Floor Programme at the hospital.
“If this is not addressed early on with a change in lifestyle or medical intervention depending on the severity, over time it can impair relaxation and coordination of pelvic floor and abdominal muscles. We help such patients by educating them about healthy habits, biofeedback training and pelvic floor retraining exercises,”
Treatment options for pelvic floor dysfunction
In about 80 per cent of the cases, Dr Tabaja says, physiotherapy is the solution. Although pelvic floor issues can be a complex problem sometimes the proper treatment can be so simple and comfortable to the patient and make a significant difference.
“Most patients can be treated without surgery. We always start them on specialised pelvic floor physical therapy, and only if that fails, we suggest more aggressive treatments. It is very important that patients be seen by a multidisciplinary team to get an evidence-based solution for their pelvic floor disorders,” Dr Tabaja concludes.