(By Amy Tinetti, Women’s Health Physiotherapist)
Do you have any of the following symptoms?
- leaking when you sneeze, cough, run or laugh?
- pressure or heaviness in your pelvis area?
- pain when you wee?
- constipation or straining?
- lower back pain or pelvic spasm?
- painful periods or endometriosis?
- discomfort during sexual intercourse?
The symptoms listed above are really common issues that people have. BUT they are not normal. There are many things we can do, that can be quick and cost-effective, to get you feeling back in control. Read on to learn more…
What is your pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is a layer of muscles that assist in supporting the pelvic organs (bladder, bowel, and uterus in women) and spans the bottom of the pelvis.
The pelvic floor muscles stretch like a muscular trampoline from the pubic bone to the tail bone (coccyx) front to back, and sideways from one sitting bone to the other sitting bone. These muscles are normally firm and thick.
The pelvic floor muscle layer has a hole for passages to pass through. There are three passages in women these are the urethra, vagina, and anus.
The pelvic floor muscles normally assist with keeping these passages shut, there is also an extra circular muscle around the anus (the anal sphincter) and around the urethra (the urethral sphincter) to assist with closure of these passages.
Although the pelvic floor is hidden from view, it is a muscle and therefore can be consciously controlled and trained, much like our arm, leg or abdominal muscles.
What are some signs of pelvic floor problems?
- Leakage of urine, faeces or wind
- Urgency or leaking when getting to the toilet
- Constantly needing to go to the toilet
- Difficulty controlling bowel motions
- Inability to empty bladder or bowel completely
- Dragging or heavy sensation in the pelvis
- A bulge in the vagina
- Lack of sensation during sexual intercourse
- Pain with sexual intercourse
- Pain in your pelvic area
How do pelvic floor problems occur?
Pregnancy and childbirth can stretch and weaken the pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to incontinence and prolapse. Aging can also cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken naturally, which can lead to a variety of symptoms. Hormonal changes during menopause can also affect the pelvic floor, leading to dryness and irritation, which can contribute to pain during intercourse.
Some people have weak pelvic floors due to:
- Not keeping them active
- Being overweight
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Heavy lifting
- Altered hormone levels eg menopause or medications
Other people having a pelvic floor that is too tight and being unable to relax can cause issues such as:
- Pain with sexual intercourse
- Pelvic pain
- Urinary urgency
What is the importance of a pelvic floor check-up?
To get a better idea of how your pelvic floor is functioning, it’s recommended to get a pelvic floor check-up, especially if you experience any signs of a pelvic floor issue, such as leakage of urine, faeces, or wind, constant need to go to the toilet, difficulty controlling bowel motions, and pain during sexual intercourse.
Prevention is also crucial, especially for people who are pregnant, have recently given birth, or are entering menopause. Wisdom Physiotherapy offers services that can help assess the health of your pelvic floor and provide guidance on how to keep it strong and healthy before problems arise.
Overall, taking care of your pelvic floor is essential for your overall health and well-being, and seeking help when you experience symptoms can help you get back in control of your body.
What does a session with a Women’s Health Physiotherapist include?
- Thorough subjective and objective assessment (current and past history) to see if you have any symptoms or risk factors for pelvic floor problems
- Using real-time ultrasound to see your pelvic floor lift and check your technique. If required an internal examination can be completed.
- Education on what specific pelvic floor exercises you may require and incorporate these into your current exercise and daily activities.
- Discuss any pelvic floor symptoms and change/modify lifestyle strategies as required
So if you haven’t had a check-up before, or have any of the symptoms listed above, don’t wait for the problem to worsen, come in and let us help you sort it out.
To have a pelvic floor physio appointment in Nedlands, click here to book online or call us on (08) 6389 2947.