Women’s Health: Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy

 

This blog is going to cover some introductory information about pelvic health statistics and common symptoms that are treated with pelvic health physiotherapy.

First, I wanted to get out of the way the idea that pelvic health and pelvic health physiotherapy is just about teaching kegels and seeing people who pee with coughing after they have a baby. Pelvic Health Physiotherapy is complex, as each person who comes in is complex in their own way. I do not just send people home with kegels and say “see you in 6 weeks!” Pelvic floor physiotherapy involves the whole person from head to toe. I often tell my patients that the pelvis is the center piece of the body, which I have been told I am biased about, but if you do any research around this area you will realize this is true. Our pelvis is the reason we can walk, move, jump and have the quality of life we do. The pelvis is not only the reason we can walk, but it is also the reason we can pee, poop and have sex like we do. So yes, I may be biased, but for very obvious reasons, and by this point you have probably figured out that I am very passionate about this area of the body.

Now, that we know the pelvis is an important piece of the body for everyone, who should go to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist? I tell people: anyone who is experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction, has had pelvic surgery or has had a child should see a pelvic health physiotherapist. Yes, even if you have had a child and are experiencing no symptoms, it still may be beneficial for you to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist. This is to ensure that you are doing the right things and taking care of this area of your body properly. Your pelvic floor is not just a support system that holds everything up, it also contracts and relaxes much like any other muscle in your body. If you were to have surgery on your knee you would go for physiotherapy afterwards, right? Same with the pelvic floor, you want to make sure you are taking care of your body regardless of what is happening.

Does that mean you do nothing until you see a pelvic floor physiotherapist after experiencing any of the above things? No. Be smart, monitor symptoms, stay active and get in when you can.

When I tell people I see patients who have never had a baby before, I usually get the question of why – there can be a multitude of reasons. There are many younger or older women who have never had a baby that deal with pelvic floor dysfunction. This can include peeing with a cough, laugh or sneeze, sexual pain, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse or post abdominal or pelvic surgery. It may even be a good idea if you are going for an abdominal or pelvic surgery to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist before you go, not just afterwards.

Another question I often get asked is how common is pelvic floor dysfunction? Research shows the following: 20% of all women (1) and 50% of pregnant women (2) suffer from stress urinary incontinence, which is leakage with cough, laugh, sneeze but also may occur with any type of physical exertion. 12% of people deal with over active bladder syndrome (3), which is the sudden urge to go to the bathroom but can include going to the bathroom more frequently. 25-75% of all women deal with pelvic organ prolapse (4,5,6,7) this is the dropping of one or all of the pelvic organs into the vaginal canal to varying degrees. 20% of women age 18-29 years old, 15% of women 30-39 years old, 13% of women 40-49 years old and 8% of women 50-59 years old have experienced pain during sex (8).

As you can see, pelvic floor dysfunction is common, but should not be considered normal. If you or someone you know is dealing with any of the above-mentioned symptoms, it is never too late to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist for help. We want to help you improve your quality of life and keep you going later in life, without having to worry about your symptoms. I tell my patients all the time that I am just as passionate as they are about improving their symptoms, so let me or someone else help.

Calista Naismith, PT

BSc, MScPT, PgCSH

 

If you would like to learn more from Calista, you can make an appointment with her at Cura Physical Therapies 

 

 

REFERENCES:

  1. Hannestad, Y. S., Rortveit, G., Sandvik, H., & Hunskaar, S. (2000). A community-based epidemiological survey of female urinary incontinence:: The Norwegian EPINCONT Study. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 53(11), 1150-1157.
  2. International Consultation on Incontinence. (2005). Chapter 5: Epidemiology of Urinary (UI) and Faecal (FI) Incontinence and Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP). In P. Abrams, L. Cardozo, S. Khoury, & A. Wein (Eds.), Incontinence (Vol. 3). Retrieved from https://www.ics.org/publications/ici_3/v1.pdf/chap5.pdf.
  3. Irwin, D. E., Milsom, I., Hunskaar, S., Reilly, K., Kopp, Z., Herschorn, S., . . . Abrams, P. (2006). Population-based survey of urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, and other lower urinary tract symptoms in five countries: results of the EPIC study. European Urology, 50(6), 1306-1314; discussion 1314-1305. doi:10.1016/j.eururo.2006.09.019
  4. Chow, D., & Rodriguez, L. V. (2013). Epidemiology and prevalence of pelvic organ prolapse. Curr Opin Urol, 23(4), 293-298. doi:10.1097/MOU.0b013e3283619ed0
  5. Samuelsson, E. C., Victor, F. A., Tibblin, G., & Svärdsudd, K. F. (1999). Signs of genital prolapse in a Swedish population of women 20 to 59 years of age and possible related factors. American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 180(2), 299-305.
  6. Slieker-ten Hove, M. C., Pool-Goudzwaard, A. L., Eijkemans, M. J., Steegers-Theunissen, R. P., Burger, C. W., & Vierhout, M. E. (2009). The prevalence of pelvic organ prolapse symptoms and signs and their relation with bladder and bowel disorders in a general female population. International Urogynecology Journal and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, 20(9), 1037-1045. doi:10.1007/s00192-009-0902-1
  7. Slieker-ten Hove, M. C., Pool-Goudzwaard, A. L., Eijkemans, M. J., Steegers-Theunissen, R. P., Burger, C. W., & Vierhout, M. E. (2009). The prevalence of pelvic organ prolapse symptoms and signs and their relation with bladder and bowel disorders in a general female population. International Urogynecology Journal and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, 20(9), 1037-1045. doi:10.1007/s00192-009-0902-1

 

 

 

 

 

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