Women’s Health – Pelvic Floor
PELVIC FLOOR PHYSIOTHERAPY
Did you know that 1 in 2 women and 1 in 9 men will experience urinary incontinence at some point during their life? It has unfortunately become all too common for women to think it is normal to pee a little when they exercise or cough, or not be able to make it to the bathroom in time before having to go pee. Research is now continuing to support the role that physiotherapists make in the rehabilitation of what is known as the pelvic floor. The Cochrane Collaboration (2010) concluded that physiotherapy should be the first line of defence for stress, urge and mixed incontinence in women.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND PELVIC FLOOR PHYSIOTHERAPY?
While pregnancy is the most common reason, rehabilitation can be indicated for the pelvic floor for many reasons. Anybody experiencing any form of pelvic floor dysfunction should come for an assessment.
Common examples of pelvic floor dysfunction include (but are not limited to)
- Leaking when coughing/sneezing or even laughing
- Painful intercourse
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Constipation, straining, or pain with bowel movements
- Unexplained pain in your pelvic region, lower back, hips or genital area, or any forms of muscle spasms in the pelvic region
ROLE OF THE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES
The pelvic floor muscles kind of look like a bowl and act as a sphincter to prevent urinary and fecal incontinence. They also play a vital role in holding and supporting some of our internal organs, while also stabilizing our back and pelvic girdle. The muscles that make up the entire pelvic floor must be able to contract in order to prevent and leaking, and relax in order to allow urination and bowel movements. If the muscles of the pelvic floor get too tight, issues such as frequent urination, urgency, or even constipation may occur. If the muscles become too weak, we may again see incontinence, or even pelvic organ prolapse.
WHAT CAN I EXPECT AT MY FIRST VISIT?
One of the most important parts of your pelvic floor treatment will be education. Our goal is for you to understand your own health and give you the tools you need in order to take back control. In addition, specific exercises, manual techniques, modalities such as Biofeedback and functional movements and return to sport guidelines may be used as part of your personalized treatment plan. Please note that an internal exam is a vital part of what we do.
WHY DO WE DO AN INTERNAL EXAM?
The muscles of the pelvic floor are, in fact, internal muscles. We cannot feel them from the outside. Research has shown that doing an internal exam is the best way to assess the pelvic floor muscles and ensure that strengthening exercises are being done correctly. If you are uncomfortable having an internal exam or are not suitable for an internal exam for any reason, please speak to us and we can find an approach that works best for you.
WHAT IF I HAVE MY PERIOD?
No worries at all! We can still do the same exam.
Parkway now offers a specialized biofeedback machine that is painless and which is used on the outside of your body. This technology allows for much easier, effective, and less invasive treatment options. There is a full article on how we use this technology to help your pelvic floor health on the right hand side of this page.