Pathophysiology of pelvic floor hypertonic disorders

Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2009 Sep;36(3):699-705. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2009.08.006.


The pelvic floor represents the neuromuscular unit that provides support and functional control for the pelvic viscera. Its integrity, both anatomic and functional, is the key in some of the basic functions of life: storage of urine and feces, evacuation of urine and feces, support of pelvic organs, and sexual function. When this integrity is compromised, the results lead to many of the problems seen by clinicians. Pelvic floor dysfunction can involve weakness and result in stress incontinence, fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic floor dysfunction can also involve the development of hypertonic, dysfunctional muscles. This article discusses the pathophysiology of hypertonic disorders that often result in elimination problems, chronic pelvic pain, and bladder disorders that include bladder pain syndromes, retention, and incontinence. The hypertonic disorders are very common and are often not considered in the evaluation and management of patients with these problems.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Pelvic Floor / physiopathology*
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse / physiopathology*