Pelvic Floor Spasm: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment Options - PT Effect

Pelvic Floor Spasm: Causes, Symptoms, & Treatment Options

Get to the root cause of your pelvic pain
Read Time: 2 minutes
Mar 15, 2022

Pelvic floor disorders are varied and complex health problems that can wreak havoc on your day-to-day life. As of 2008, nearly 24% of women in the United States had at least one pelvic floor disorder. The number of women affected by pelvic floor disorders increases with age.

What Is Pelvic Floor Spasm?

Definition Pelvic floor spasm is when the pelvic floor muscles contract involuntarily at continuous or intermittent intervals generally without the woman knowing pelvic floor spasm is occurring. This presents as pain, bladder dysfunction, or bowel dysfunction.

While some might take this as part of the aging process, pelvic floor spasm is not a normal part of aging and can be treated and potentially reversed with treatment. As pelvic floor spasm can have a significant impact on your daily quality of life, it’s important to identify and treat the problem as quickly as possible.

How Do You Know You Have Pelvic Floor Spasm?

Pelvic pain and incontinence are the two most common symptoms that alert people to the possibility of having pelvic floor spasm. Incontinence may present as stress incontinence, urge incontinence, or mixed incontinence. Pelvic pain from pelvic floor spasm may present in the abdomen or low back. This pain will be chronic and severe.

If you suspect you may have pelvic floor spasm it’s important to seek a diagnosis from a doctor as quickly as possible to help treat and potentially reverse the symptoms.

What Does Pelvic Floor Spasm Feel Like?

Pelvic floor spasm feels like bands of tight muscle, a sensation that can be repeated through palpitation of the area.

Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Spasm

The symptoms of pelvic floor spasm or dysfunction include:

  • Sensation of unfinished bowel movements
  • Urine or feces leakage
  • Lower back pain
  • Pain in genitals or lower abdomen
  • Painful urination
  • Difficulty urinating

Women experiencing pelvic floor spasm may experience pain during sex. Men experiencing pelvic floor spasm may experience erectile dysfunction as a result of the pelvic floor spasm.

Can Men Have Pelvic Floor Spasm?

Yes, men can experience pelvic floor spasm. Pelvic floor spasm isn’t a female-specific medical problem. Men have pelvic floors and therefore can experience incontinence and other problems associated with pelvic floor spasm.

What Causes Pelvic Floor Spasm?

Pelvic floor spasm doesn’t have one singular cause, rather many potential causes. Potential causes include:

  • Genetics (Weaker muscles and connective tissue)
  • Surgery
  • Age
  • Weight
  • Injury
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Straining when using the bathroom
  • Using the bathroom too frequently
  • Neurological disorders (ex. Parkinson’s disease)

Diagnosing Pelvic Floor Spasm

Diagnosing pelvic floor spasm is a multi-step process that includes various methods. Your doctor will likely begin with asking questions to access your history and symptoms. This will generally be followed by an internal and external exam to determine how your pelvic floor muscles are currently working.

Additional methods for diagnosing pelvic floor spasm include using an anal manometry, using electrodes, administering a defecating proctogram, or using a uroflow test.

Treatment Options for Pelvic Floor Spasm

Your custom treatment plan will be developed by your doctor and physical therapist to help alleviate symptoms based on the diagnosis your receive. Treatment methods may differ depending upon the cause of your pelvic floor spasm.

Common treatment options include:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Behavior changes
  • Physical therapy
  • Muscle relaxers

Scheduling Your First Appointment

A physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor therapy can help you to restore your comfort and put a stop to aggravating symptoms of pelvic floor spasm. At PT Effect we take a natural approach to treat the problem at its root cause. This leads to long-term results without the use of injections of pills.

It’s important that you don’t allow fear or embarrassment to stand between you and the help you need. Seeking professional help can help you find a solution to pelvic floor spasms that eliminates the uncomfortable and annoying symptoms. Our team of professionals takes a compassionate, thorough, and custom approach to treating your pelvic floor spasm.

Need Help With Pelvic Floor Pain?

Contact us to schedule your first appointment.

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Mark Shulman

Dr. Mark Shulman

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), FAAOMPT, COMT, CSCS


Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapists.

Mark Shulman

Dr. Allison McKay

Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), PRPC


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The Physical Therapy Effect

1601 Kettner Blvd Suite 11
San Diego, CA 92101