Causes and Diagnoses

Causes and Diagnoses of Pelvic Floor Disorders

There are several factors that may cause damage to the pelvic floor, including:

  • Pregnancy and childbirth: There are many risk factors for development of pelvic floor disorders after childbirth, especially if you experience a severe tear during childbirth. Pregnancy and vaginal delivery can also damage the pelvic muscles and nerves. This can occur more commonly in women who have delivered a large baby, have required forceps during delivery, or have had many babies.
  • Aging and menopause: Loss of estrogen and other changes that occur with aging can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and supportive structures.
  • Health conditions: Certain health conditions that involve repeated straining, including obesity, chronic coughing, and constipation, can weaken and injure the pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue over time.
  • Genetics/family history: The strength of your connective tissues is determined by your genetics. For example, if your mother had a pelvic floor disorder, you are more likely to develop it as well.

A Northwestern Medicine urogynecologist may conduct diagnostic tests to help determine the most effective treatment options for each patient. Learn more about our diagnostic tests.