Whether you’re male or female, the pelvic floor plays an important role in the way our bodies function. You need to ask yourself, ‘Do you give your pelvic floor the attention it needs?’ Women usually think about it in terms of being afraid to laugh for fear of peeing when their pelvic floor weakens – we hear all the jokes and just assume this is a part of life we will eventually experience…but it doesn’t need to be that way! The pelvic floor can – and should – be strengthened and maintained, just like any other muscle.
What is the Pelvic Floor and Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy?
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles that lie within your pelvis that have many different functions.
They function to:
1) Control your bladder and bowels
2) Assist during sexual function
3) Support your pelvic/abdominal organs
4) Assist with the rest of your “core” muscles to support your low back/torso during all movements
5) Facilitate birth
6) Maintain optimal intra-abdominal pressure
7) Act as a venous and lymphatic pump for the pelvis
When these muscles are not functioning properly this can result in many different issues such as:
- Incontinence (of bladder or bowel)
- Pelvic pain (associated with prostatitis, interstitial cystitis, and endometriosis for example)
- Low back pain
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Urinary urgency, frequency, pain, starting/stopping
- Bowel dysfunction (constipation, pain, pushing/straining)
- Pain with intercourse
These symptoms can occur for many different reasons and sometimes for reasons unknown. Some triggers may be pre-post pregnancy; a trauma or injury of some sort; after surgery; too much or too little movement; chronic coughing/straining/heavy lifting. Many people often deal with the above issues silently thinking that these symptoms are normal, that they just have to live with it, that it is just part of having children or have heard of Kegels and yet do not receive any benefits of doing them.
What can I do to prevent those things from happening to me as I get older?
Kegels are a general term used for pelvic floor strengthening exercises. Kegels are not necessarily needed for everyone and even when they are, they are often preformed incorrectly or without the proper prescription/dosage. In fact, Kegels can sometimes make symptoms worse if your pelvic muscles are tight.
Is there someone who can guide me so that I know I am correcting the problem?
A pelvic health physiotherapist is a registered physiotherapist who is specifically trained to assess and treat dysfunctions of the pelvic floor. You may need to see a pelvic floor physio if you have any of the above signs/symptoms, and they can work with you to create an individualized program to help you reach your goals. Pelvic health physiotherapists assess and treat men and women of all different ages and conditions.
The Cochrane Collaboration 2010 concluded that Physiotherapists with specialized training in pelvic floor rehabilitation (using internal examination to teach the exercises) should be the first line of defense, before surgical consultation, for stress, urge and mixed incontinence in women.
Do I have to have a referral from my doctor if I want to see a physiotherapist?
Physiotherapists are primary care providers so you can access them without needing a referral (unless needed by your extended health care provider). If you do have any questions or think that this therapy might be for you, you can ask your family doctor, or contact us at Life-Mark Centric Physiotherapy.
Danielle Waite MPT can be found by phone Ph: 519-432-0835 and located at 190 Wortley Road, London, ON, N6C 4Y7. If you would like more information you can also visit their website or look them up on Facebook.