Physiotherapy & the Female Pelvic Floor
“Physiotherapy has been shown to be extremely effective in helping many problems associated with pelvic floor dysfunction and is recommended as the first option before any surgery is considered.”
WHAT IS THE PELVIC FLOOR?
The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus, vagina, bowel and anus. They tighten to lift and support these organs and close their openings when pressure is exerted downwards eg. Coughing, sneezing, lifting, laughing and standing up.
This helps maintain our continence. When we need to empty our bladder or bowel, the pelvic floor relaxes and allows urine or a bowel motion to pass out. Being ‘Incontinent’ ranges from totally unable to control your bladder or bowel to just losing some urine when you laugh or do yoga.
The pelvic floor muscles can be damaged or weakened during childbirth; from straining when constipated; with a chronic cough; from repetitive lifting and high impact gym work if the abs (6 pack) are allowed to dominate the core muscles (deeper abdominals).
WHAT YOU MAY NOTICE IF YOU HAVE A CONTINENCE PROBLEM (Big or small)
- Leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting.
- Can’t get to the toilet in time.
- Can’t keep a tampon in.
- Bulging feeling in vagina or feeling as if you have to push yourself back up inside after using your bowels.
- Not emptying bowels properly (using lots of loo paper and still not clean?)
- Vaginal or anal wind on bending/lifting.
- After dribble or poor flow (men).
PELVIC FLOOR DISORDERS THAT PHYSIOTHERAPY CAN HELP
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Incontinence – both urinary and faecal
- Constipation and obstructive defecation
WHAT CAN YOUR PHYSIOTHERAPIST DO?
Physiotherapists, Fiona Rogers and Candice Lamb, are specially trained in pelvic floor rehabilitation.
They will discuss your problem with you and take a detailed history.
If appropriate, and if you agree, they may suggest an internal examination to assess your pelvic floor muscle function.
Fiona and Candice may also use ultrasound (RTUS) and biofeedback to aid assessment and develop an individualised program aimed at regaining your pelvic floor function.
WHAT DOES TREATMENT INVOLVE?
Treatment will comprise an appropriate individualised program for your particular condition. Some of the treatments prescribed may include a pelvic floor strengthening program; relaxation and down training of overactive muscles; correct activation and strengthening of weak muscles (pelvic floor and core), bladder retraining ; defecation training as well as general education on your condition.
These simple techniques have been shown to be extremely effective in helping many problems associated with pelvic floor dysfunction and are recommended as the first option before any surgery is considered.