Pelvic Floor Issues
Your pelvic floor plays a vital role in keeping your body functioning as it should. Pelvic floor is a complex web of muscles, fascia and ligaments. These muscles, which sit like a hammock in two layers between the pubic bone and the coccyx, help to control your bladder, uterus and rectum, and provide support to those pelvic organs.
As time goes on, however, your pelvic floor can become weak and damaged – especially if you have children, but as well if you regularly strain on the toilet, have a chronic cough or your BMI is too high. Pelvis-related conditions are thought to affect as many as 25% of women at some point in their lives, often during and after childbirth, when the pelvic muscles are placed under increased strain from changing hormones, extra weight and the stress of labour. You may also develop pelvic floor dysfunction due to trauma, surgery, or muscle overuse.
At PelviCare, our specialists provide tailored physiotherapy treatments for common pelvic floor issues that can lead to a range of unpleasant symptoms, including incontinence, reduced bowel control, back pain and loss of sexual sensation. We can develop highly targeted pelvic floor physio programmes at either of our clinics in Greenwich and Moorgate that will help to reduce pain, improve your mobility, teach you how to correctly contract your pelvic floor muscles and prevent pelvic floor dysfunction from having such a profound impact on your life.
Common issues caused by weak pelvic floor dysfunction
If your pelvic floor muscles are not relaxing and contracting as they should, you may suffer from one or any of the following conditions:
The most common type of leakage is stress incontinence. It is caused by a physical stress on your bladder that makes you leak. It often happens when you cough, sneeze or exercise. One of the causes of stress leakage is poor control of already weak pelvic floor muscles.
Urgency is the sudden desire to go to the toilet immediately. If you leak on the way to the toilet, this is called urinary urge incontinence. There are several reasons why this happens - drinking fluids that irritate the bladder, such as fizzy drinks, caffeine or citrus, or because you are not drinking enough fluid through the day. It can also be a result of lost or reduced control of the bladder muscle.
If you have a combination of the above, then you are said to have mixed incontinence. Your specialist physiotherapist will help you to overcome your need to rush to the toilet while also helping you to get back control of your pelvic floor muscles.
This is leakage of stool (faeces) or difficulty with controlling wind as well as urge during activity. It may be caused by muscle weakness around the anus (back passage) following perineal tear.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when one or more of the organs in the pelvis slip out of their usual position and begin to press onto the vagina, causing a bulge.
Pelvic organ prolapse, often referred to as ‘prolapse’, is described as a vaginal change where a pelvic organ which may be the bladder, bowel, rectum or uterus moves downwards in the vagina causing the symptom of ‘something coming down’ or a feeling of vaginal heaviness. The bulge may be felt inside or outside the vagina. Prolapse may also cause bladder, bowel or sexual symptoms.
The most common symptom is the feeling of ‘something coming down’ or a feeling of vaginal heaviness/bulge, often after long walk or workout.
There are different types of pelvic organ prolapse and it is quite common to have more than one type of prolapse at the same time.
Is there a way of preventing pelvic floor issues from happening during pregnancy?
Many of the factors associated with damage to the pelvic muscles are out of your control. For example, you are more likely to suffer with a weakened pelvic floor if there is a history of the condition in the family, or if you deliver your baby via a vaginal birth.
That said, there are a few things you can do to limit the amount of stress placed on your pelvic floor while you are carrying a child. Some of them relate to your lifestyle – for example, you should:
- Try to maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a well-balanced diet that is packed full of plenty of nutrients
- Stop smoking
- Avoid activities that place a lot of pressure on the abdomen, especially in the later stages of pregnancy
- Avoid constipation
- Get lots of rest
Drink plenty of water
You can also carry out a range of prenatal pelvic floor exercises that will help to keep the muscles strong and supple as your body undergoes important changes. Book at an appointment at either of our clinics in Greenwich and Moorgate, and our women’s health physiotherapists will happily advise you on ways you can keep your pelvic floor in better shape throughout your pregnancy.
Treating pelvic floor issues after birth
At PelviCare, we have many years’ experience in assessing the extent of the damage, then sharing safe yet effective exercises that will strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and release tension in the area that could be exacerbating symptoms.
(Please note, you will normally need to wait at least 6 weeks after giving birth before starting your pelvic floor rehabilitation programme. Doing so will give the body time to heal and get ready for more strenuous movements again.)
Carrying out our recommended physiotherapy treatments for just a few minutes a day can make all the difference – as long as you are working with your muscles in the right way. Our pelvic floor specialists will teach you a series of low-impact, breathing-led techniques that you can practice at home, in-between your physio sessions.
Learn more about our pelvic floor therapies or contact us today to book an initial consultation with a member of our team.
Will weak pelvic floor muscles get better on their own?
It is very unlikely you will see significant improvements without an intervention. Many women who do not take steps to strengthen and protect their pelvic floor muscles before and after childbirth find that they still suffer with pain, discomfort and pelvic-related conditions for years after the delivery.
Some may also wrongly believe that nothing can be done to improve their situation, and it just comes part and parcel with having children – but this could not be further from the truth! There are plenty of tried-and-tested exercises and therapies that can be used to combat the problem.
The full range of treatments on offer from PelviCare:
As women’s health specialists, we are proud to offer a fantastic range of diagnostic and physiotherapy services that are designed to aid your post-birth recovery and give you back your confidence, regardless of the pelvic issues you’re facing.