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A Beginner’s Guide to Pelvic Physiotherapy

A Beginner’s Guide to Pelvic Physiotherapy

Pelvic floor dysfunction is common in both men and women, each with unique needs. There are a number of pelvic issues that can be impacting your everyday life, and it’s essential to address them with a professional. Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a specialized form of physiotherapy focused on assessing and treating many common pelvic health concerns.  These concerns can include leaking, pelvic organ prolapse (which often involves sensations of heaviness in the pelvic region), pelvic pain, post-surgical concerns, pre- and post-partum populations as well as painful intercourse.

If you suspect you have a pelvic floor condition or want to learn more, continue reading for a beginner’s guide to pelvic physiotherapy.

What is the pelvic floor? 

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and connective tissues located at the bottom of your pelvis, between your tailbone and pubic bone, and between the bones that you sit on.  This group of muscles provides five important functions.  The pelvic floor supports your internal organs against gravity and intra-abdominal pressure, and it also plays a vital role in your core function, working with other muscles to help support the low back and hips.  It controls the openings of the urethra, vagina and anus to help prevent leaking.  These muscles also have important sexual functions, and they act as a sump pump, circulating fluids out of the pelvis and back up towards the heart.

Pelvic floor dysfunction consists of an array of signs and symptoms which indicate that your pelvic floor muscles are either too tight, too weak or do not function optimally.  Anyone can experience pelvic floor dysfunction, however, the evidence does show some patterns.  There is a strong association between persistent low back and/or pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction.  While leaking can happen for both men and women, 50% of women experience some urinary incontinence at some point in their life. 

What is pelvic physiotherapy? 

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a form of physiotherapy with a focus on the functioning of the pelvic floor and core.  The pelvic floor muscles are an important part of your overall health and play a vital role in your core functioning.  Pelvic health physiotherapists have taken additional post-graduate courses in the assessment and treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction. This training provides evidence-based, conservative treatment options for many common pelvic health concerns. This can include conditions such as urinary and fecal incontinence (leaking), pelvic organ prolapse (can present as sensations of heaviness or fullness in the pelvic region), pelvic pain, post-surgical concerns, pre- and post-partum populations as well as painful intercourse.  If you are experiencing any signs or symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, reach out to a pelvic physiotherapy clinic to ask about pelvic physiotherapy.   

How do you know if your pelvic floor is working well? 

If you are not experiencing any of the signs/symptoms mentioned previously, your pelvic floor is likely functioning just fine.  Pelvic floor dysfunction often manifests in increased urinary urgency, frequency, or leaking, sexual dysfunction, and pain in the pelvic, hip or low back region. Some men and women begin to notice a change in their pelvic floor muscle function after surgeries involving the abdomen, pelvis, or groin areas, and pregnancies in women, but these are not the only factors. 

What can I expect in an appointment? 

During an assessment, you will be given the time to tell your physiotherapist all about you, your medical history, and how your present-day symptoms have impacted your life. Any questionnaires that are completed before your appointment will also be reviewed to help create an individualized, evidence-based treatment plan that will help you reach your goals. Your therapist will also complete a physical assessment which may include an evaluation of your breathing, posture, and strength/movement levels. With your consent, your therapist may also use internal and external techniques to evaluate the function of the muscles, joints, connective tissues, nerves, and ligaments in your pelvic girdle, lower back, and hips.  An internal examination is never conducted without your consent. If you are concerned or uncomfortable with an internal examination, please discuss this with your pelvic health physiotherapist who will review the risks, benefits, and alternative options. Your comfort and consent will always be a priority, and all evaluations are conducted in a private room for your comfort and privacy.  At the end of your assessment, your physiotherapist will work with you to develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your specific needs and goals. 

Interested in pelvic floor physiotherapy?

If you live in and around Peterborough, Trent Health in Motion can provide pelvic floor physiotherapy near you. Whether you are a new mother, healing from surgery, or an athlete, we are here to offer a specialized treatment plan to ensure that you’re living your life with optimal comfort and functionality. 

Please reach out with any further questions or concerns. We’re here to ensure you’re informed and comfortable before committing to our treatment options. You can contact us by phone at 705-741-4758 or book a pelvic health appointment through our online booking system.

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