Overactive pelvic floor (OPF) muscles are defined as muscles that do not relax, or may even contract, when relaxation is needed, for example, during micturition or defecation. Conditions associated with OPF are multifactorial and include multiple possible etiologies and symptom complexes. The complex interplay between biological and psychosocial elements can lead to the persistence of OPF symptoms along with psychological and emotional distress.
(1) To review and contextualize, from a pathophysiologic perspective, the evidence for OPF, (2) to provide an overview of common clinical presentations and comorbidities of OPF, and (3) to discuss the effect of OPF on sexual function in men and women.
Review of the updated literature on the pathophysiology of OPF was carried out. OPF-associated conditions were overviewed, with special emphasis on the impact on sexual function in men and women.
Individuals with suspected OPF often present with a combination of gastrointestinal, gynecological, musculoskeletal, sexual, and urological comorbidities, mostly accompanied by psychoemotional distress. In both women and men, sexual function is significantly impaired by OPF and genitopelvic pain penetration disorders are often the primary manifestation of this condition. Women with OPF report less sexual desire, arousal, and satisfaction; more difficulty reaching orgasm; lower frequencies of intercourse; more negative attitudes toward sexuality; and more sexual distress than women without sexual pain. The most frequently reported sexual dysfunctions in men with OPF include erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and ejaculatory pain.
The complex pathophysiology of OPF involving multisystemic comorbidities and psychosocial factors emphasize the importance of a biopsychosocial assessment for guiding effective and personalized management. Padoa A, McLean L, Morin M, et al. "The Overactive Pelvic Floor (OPF) and Sexual Dysfunction" Part 1: Pathophysiology of OPF and Its Impact on the Sexual Response. Sex Med 2020;XX:XXX-XXX.
Sexual medicine reviews. 2020 Mar 29 [Epub ahead of print]
Anna Padoa, Linda McLean, Melanie Morin, Carolyn Vandyken
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yitzhak Shamir (formerly Assaf Harofe) Medical Center, Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel. Electronic address: ., School of Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada., School of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke and Research Center of the Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Sherbrooke (CHUS), Sherbrooke, QC, Canada., Physio Works Muskoka, Huntsville, ON, Canada.