Pelvic health physiotherapy is a specialized area of physiotherapy which assesses and treats dysfunction of the pelvic floor. Just like your leg or back, the pelvic floor includes muscles, ligaments, nerves and connective tissue. The muscles of the pelvic floor form a hammock-like sling that extends from the pubis (front bone of the pelvis) to the sacrum and coccyx (tail bone). The pelvic floor muscles also have an effect at the symphysis pubis, lumbo-sacral, and sacroiliac levels, and are key core stabilizers. In addition, they play a vital role in urinary, ano-rectal, and sexual function. Like other muscles in the body, they are prone to injury and dysfunction.
Dysfunction of the pelvic floor usually presents as hypotonicity (weakness) or hypertonicity (tightness) in the muscles. Hypotonicity can cause issues with urinary and ano-rectal incontinence and urgency, evacuation difficulties due to prolapse, poor control of flatulence, and decreased sensation during intercourse. Hypertonicity can cause issues with stress incontinence, difficulty emptying the bladder/bowels, urgency, and pain during intercourse. Poor coordination of the pelvic floor muscles is another type of dysfunction which can lead to difficult or incomplete bladder/bowel emptying, urinary incontinence, and a decrease in sexual pleasure. Other dysfunctions of the pelvic floor include pain syndromes, such as dyspareunia (painful intercourse), and pelvic organ prolapse.
Why does this matter?
The reality is that 1 in 3 women have symptoms of urinary incontinence (Canadian Urinary Bladder Survey, 2007 & Hunskaar, Burgio , 2002). That is a substantial number! Especially given that the number one risk factor for stress incontinence is being a woman. Some of the other causes of incontinence include childbirth, pregnancy, pelvic or abdominal surgery, and radiation therapy. Incontinence is classified as either urge, stress, overflow, functional, or mixed incontinence.
The majority of women do not know there is treatment for these issues, or they are too embarrassed to talk about them. We need to end the stigma around our *private parts* and help women realize it is not normal to leak at any age. Many women just brush it off as a normal part of childbirth or aging, but it's not normal and, more importantly, it's fixable.
What can a physiotherapist do to help?
What does physiotherapy treatment of the pelvic floor involve?
To learn more about how to properly perform a Kegel exercise, or if you should even be doing them, call 902-404-3668 to book an assessment with our physiotherapist Stephanie Brown today!
by Stephanie Brown, PT