Around the globe, thousands of women suffer from pelvic pain, incontinence, and other pelvic floor disorders. In fact, 1 out of 3 women experiences pelvic floor dysfunction, which is more common after childbirth. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help significantly improve these problems.
Unfortunately, many women don’t get the proper treatment they need due to the lack of awareness and understanding of the condition, even among healthcare professionals. Since it is typically associated with pregnancy or childbirth, many women think pain, incontinence, and other pelvic issues are part of the expected transition to motherhood.
Understanding what pelvic floor disorders and how pelvic floor physiotherapy can help are crucial to finding relief and improving your overall health. This article will discuss what pelvic floor physiotherapy is and how it can solve pelvic floor dysfunction and enhance the quality of your life.
What is the pelvic floor?
Imagine your pelvic area like a bowl-shaped basket. The bottom of the basket is made up of weaving fibers that support the items inside the basket. The pelvic floor works similarly to that. It is a group of muscles that stretch from the tailbone to the pubic bone, which support vital organs such as the bladder, uterus, and parts of the intestines.
The pelvic floor works with deep back muscles, the diaphragm, and other core muscles to stabilize the spine and regulate the pressure inside the abdomen, especially during physical activities.
What is pelvic floor dysfunction?
The pelvic floor muscles help control your bladder and bowel movements and play a crucial role in sexual function. When these muscles become weak, strained, or overly tight, dysfunctions can happen, such as incontinence, constipation, organ prolapse, pain with sex, and sexual dysfunction.
Various factors, including pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, obesity and diabetes, can cause pelvic floor dysfunction. If left untreated, pelvic floor dysfunction can significantly impact sexual pleasure and mental and physical health.
Tight pelvic floor
Overly tight pelvic floor muscles can lead to decreased blood flow in the pelvic region and impinge some nerves resulting to frequent urge to pee, even during the middle of the night, constipation, and straining when taking a poop.
You may also experience sexual dysfunctions such as sharp or dull pain during penetration, pain with or inability to orgasm, and pain with sexual stimulation. In addition, a tight pelvic floor can also lead to painful erections in men and premature ejaculation.
Weak pelvic floor
On the hand, weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to uncontrollable bladder or bowel movements. This is often seen in people who leek during physical activities, coughing and sneezing. Weak pelvic floor structures can lead to heaviness or bulging of the pelvic organs and may influence the appearance of the genital area.
What is pelvic floor physical therapy?
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is designed to relieve the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction and help your pelvic muscles work the way they should.
When we think of physiotherapy, we often think of therapist who deals with pain and muscle or joint issues. However, like any muscle group, the pelvic floor can benefit from physiotherapy interventions.
During physiotherapy exercises, the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles can stabilize the pelvic floor and strengthen neuromuscular control, which can reduce or eliminate symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.
What to expect during pelvic floor physical therapy sessions?
Your treatment will always begin with a comprehensive assessment from a physio. It will start with a consultation and detailed history taking to give a background of your condition. Your physio will also perform physical tests to determine the root cause of the pelvic floor dysfunction and establish a diagnosis before starting the treatment.
Once the assessment is complete, your physio will create a personalized treatment plan that may include a combination of the following techniques to help correct the impairments in your pelvic region:
- Pelvic floor exercises: are specialized movements and exercises that will teach you how to contract and relax the pelvic floor muscles correctly.
- Manual therapy: soft tissue mobilization techniques and myofascial releases to ease the tension in the pelvic muscles and surrounding structures to relieve pain.
- Biofeedback: is a technique used to monitor muscle activities and give real-time feedback to the patient to help them better control their muscle contractions. It is especially helpful to see which muscles are working and which need more attention.
- Behavioral therapy: physiotherapists may also provide some form of behavioral therapy to help the patient manage chronic pain and anxiety symptoms.
Benefits of pelvic floor physical therapy
Pelvic floor physiotherapy can offer you a wide range of benefits if you suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction. Patients who undergo physiotherapy often report high levels of satisfaction and relief from pain. In most cases, doctors recommend undergoing physiotherapy before prescribing surgery and other drastic treatments.
Undergoing pelvic floor physiotherapy can help relieve discomfort and manage chronic pain, thus allowing a better environment for healing and recovery. In addition, specialized exercises can improve blood flow and flexibility in the pelvic region, leading to pain relief.
Improve bladder and bowel control
Physiotherapists use corrective exercises to help improve the tone and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, allowing better bladder and bowel control. Physiotherapy management can also improve poor nerve conditions in the pelvic region.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy can also help address issues related to your pelvic and spinal alignment. Specialized exercises can give you better awareness of different muscles of your body, allowing you to activate “sleeping” muscles and provide better stability to your spine.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can ruin the most intimate part of your life. In addition, it can affect your physical and mental well-being in the long term, and doing something about your situation can empower you to feel that you have more control over your life.
Better quality of life
Pelvic floor physiotherapy can address the root cause of pelvic floor dysfunction, allowing you to reduce pain, improve your function and return to your previous activities. In many cases, people who finally address these issues can regain their confidence and self-esteem, allowing them to become physically active again.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help you fix your pelvic floor dysfunction. It is a non-invasive and cost-effective treatment option for women suffering from pelvic pain, incontinence, and other related issues.
- Wallace, S. L., Miller, L. D., & Mishra, K. (2019). Pelvic floor physical therapy in the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction in women. Current opinion in obstetrics & gynecology, 31(6), 485–493. https://doi.org/10.1097/GCO.0000000000000584
- Cho, S. T., & Kim, K. H. (2021). Pelvic floor muscle exercise and training for coping with urinary incontinence. Journal of exercise rehabilitation, 17(6), 379–387. https://doi.org/10.12965/jer.2142666.333
- Schreiner, L., Crivelatti, I., de Oliveira, J. M., Nygaard, C. C., & Dos Santos, T. G. (2018). Systematic review of pelvic floor interventions during pregnancy. International journal of gynaecology and obstetrics: the official organ of the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, 143(1), 10–18. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijgo.12513