There are some things many women are reluctant to talk about, and pelvic floor problems are probably near the top of that list. Maybe they’re embarrassed. Or equally likely, they assume that their problem is normal, and they have no choice but to live with it.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is useful for women (and men) of all ages and covers a wide variety of issues. Painful intercourse, urinary or fecal leakage, a separation of the muscles of the abdominal wall after childbirth and general pelvic pain are all things that can be related to pelvic floor dysfunction. And yes, these problems are very common — but they’re not normal.
Incontinence and urinary frequency are common with new moms after childbirth, as well as in older women. But leaking every time you sneeze or getting up numerous times throughout the night to go to the bathroom can be very disruptive to your life. And it doesn’t have to be that way.
How Physical Therapy Can Help
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, ask your doctor for a referral to physical therapy. It’s best to do it when you first notice symptoms. PT is non-invasive, and many pelvic floor problems are very treatable, often helping you avoid surgery.
Treatment will be tailored for your specific needs, and may include exercises and stretches, biofeedback to locate appropriate muscles and even behavioral strategies.
For example, there should be a strong connection between your pelvic floor muscles and your bladder, and pelvic floor physical therapy can train you to improve that communication, teaching you how to regain control of your bladder. With proper treatment, it’s not uncommon to see an immediate reduction in symptoms.
You may be familiar with Kegel exercises used to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, but are you doing them correctly? It might surprise you to learn a significant number of women doing Kegels are doing them incorrectly. Doing Kegel exercises sounds easy, but it’s very nuanced. Proper training in how to tighten and relax those muscles is really important.
Surprisingly, even pain or tightness in your hip or back can be a result of a pelvic floor issue presenting in another area. Physical therapy is a great starting place, and it only takes a handful of sessions to determine if PT can provide relief.
And don’t let embarrassment keep you from seeking help. A lot of people struggle with pelvic concerns that can be treated. Sessions are private and confidential, and discussing the issue with someone who understands can make it feel more normal and natural. Remember: you aren’t alone.
Pelvic floor issues can loom large when you have them, but the solution can be very simple. Physical therapy can set you on the right path to fully participating in life again.
– Emily Grosse, Physical Therapist at Stoughton Health
This article is sponsored by Stoughton Health. Contact them today to schedule an appointment for pelvic floor physical therapy.