How do you Know if you Need Pelvic Floor Physio?
A women's health physiotherapist is an expert specialist in the area of pelvic health and related bodily systems.
In addition to pelvic floor physio, you may have heard of antenatal physiotherapy, which is treatment that focuses on preparing women's bodies for giving birth. However, the therapy that you typically find in a women's health clinic is about far more than just pregnancy.
This type of dedicated physiotherapy will diagnose and treat a wide range of women's health problems that affect the pelvic floor as well as other areas, such as the abdominal muscles. A women's physio will cover conditions arising in the whole feminine experience, from menstruation to pregnancy to menopause and beyond.
In this article we will look at your most common questions about pelvic floor physiotherapy. You will find here the information you need to decide whether you're suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction that can be alleviated by physical therapy.
If you already know you would like to visit a women's physio, then you can book here.
What is pelvic health physiotherapy?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a specialism within the physiotherapy field dedicated to the assessment and treatment of external and internal conditions that affect sexual health, the bladder and the bowel.
Women's health physiotherapists work with patients to improve their quality of life. Treatment plans might include hands-on methods, exercises, lifestyle advice or—in extreme cases—referral to a GP for medication or further treatment.
Do I need pelvic floor physical therapy?
It can sometimes be difficult to know whether you need physiotherapy for your symptoms. For example, women who have recently given birth or who are approaching menopause or perimenopause might be experiencing incontinence and occasionally leaking urine. Perhaps they think that's normal.
In fact, this type of urinary incontinence is a symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction. Best of all, it typically responds very well to women's physio treatment.
Women may experience a wide range of symptoms that can be cured or improved with pelvic health physio. If they are relatively mild, you might think that they're normal, but early attention can ensure they don't worsen.
Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction
The following are all symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction. Whether they are mild, moderate or severe, pelvic physiotherapy can help.
Constipation or incontinence - As well as constipation, stress urinary incontinence, urge urinary/bowel incontinence, anal incontinence or a combination of these are commonly caused by impairment of the normal function of the pelvic floor muscles.
Pain - Painful sexual intercourse, pain in or around the vagina, bladder or bowel pain, pain in the coccyx or lower back and pelvic girdle pain can all indicate problems that can be treated by a women's health physio.
Prolapse - Also known as POP, pelvic organ prolapse happens when the muscles are unable to support the organs of the pelvis, causing them to shift out of their proper position. In mild cases you might not be aware you even have a problem, but if it's severe, your organs can protrude outside your vagina or rectum.
What happens at a pelvic floor physio appointment?
Precise treatment at a women's health physiotherapy consultation will depend on your symptoms and your specific reasons for visiting. Some women's clinics offer specialist packages, like the Mummy MOT or Menopause MOT.
Your physio will normally conduct an internal and external physical examination. They will also take your medical history and enquire about your symptoms in detail.
You can expect any of the following checks:
- Questions about your bladder and bowel function, about your sex life and about any pain or discomfort you experience
- Detailed assessment of your vagina and rectum, including your pelvic floor muscles
- Evaluation of your posture and joints
- Investigation into areas causing any pain
- Examination of your abdominal muscles
Treatment by a pelvic floor physiotherapist
Once your symptoms have been attributed to a cause, your pelvic floor therapist will give you treatment and an exercise programme to do at home.
Treatment might include:
- Pelvic floor exercises
- Hypopressive exercises
- Therapeutic ultrasound
- INDIBA Activ
- Massage or other manual manipulation
- Lifestyle and symptom management advice
Does pelvic floor physiotherapy hurt?
In general terms, your assessment and treatment will not hurt.
Having said that, your physiotherapist will want to see what's causing your pain, so you might be asked to repeat a specific movement that triggers any pain response.
There might be some discomfort associated with examination. Equally, your therapist might conduct some manual manipulation to treat your condition that could be mildly uncomfortable. However, none of these experiences should give you pain, nor should they cause you additional pain later.
This is also true for any exercises that are prescribed for you to do at home. They may be uncomfortable but should not be painful.
If at any time during your examination and treatment you feel pain, you should tell your physiotherapist immediately.
Can pelvic floor physical therapy make things worse?
If you visit a fully trained, qualified and experienced physiotherapist, none of the treatments they give you will make your condition worse.
Don't assume, though, that because you're having symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, you should be doing Kegel exercises. There are some conditions that might appear to be caused by weak muscles that will actually be worsened by standard pelvic floor muscle exercises, such as a tight pelvic floor.
That's why it's important to visit a professional to have your symptoms properly assessed.
Does pelvic floor physiotherapy work?
Pelvic floor physio is a proven effective treatment for a wide range of unpleasant symptoms that can make your life a misery.
The treatment provided by a pelvic specialist can prepare a woman's body for giving birth, lessen the recovery period afterwards and alleviate problems caused by childbirth. Women's physios can also treat many of the disruptive symptoms of menopause. Furthermore, they can provide relief from pain, incontinence, prolapse, sexual problems and much more.
How long does pelvic therapy take?
With consistent treatment and following the plan you're given, you can expect to begin having relief within about a fortnight of your pelvic health consultation.
PelviCare Women's Health Physiotherapy is located in Greenwich, London, serving women across South London, East London, Essex, Kent and beyond.