The pelvic floor - it’s a strange thing to be excited about... yet here I am.
Prior to my pelvic floor certification, when I would hear “pelvic floor”, I immediately tended to perform a fleeting mini-Kegel. There was that acute awareness of my lady parts, resulting in a seemingly reflexive contraction of my own pelvic floor. I wasn’t sure if the awkward feeling was simply brought about by the fact that I was not used to hearing it, even in my work as an orthopedic physio. But as I studied more into it, and started acknowledging the [often overlooked] immensity of its relevance in human fitness and health, the paradigm shift transpired with a breeze.
Before I proceed, however, it is very much worth mentioning that pelvic floor physiotherapy addresses problems in areas that make people feel a plethora of emotions. I’m certain a lot of people still tend to respond to it in the same way that I used to - a reflex tension, perhaps to protect an area that has suddenly made you feel vulnerable, exposed, embarrassed, or insecure. These are quite negative emotions that come together in that overall feeling of awkwardness and nervousness when breaching the idea of pelvic floor physiotherapy. It’s a very personal process, and the associated social pre-/misconceptions do not help either. But trust us when we say, you’ll be fine, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Getting comfortable with the pelvic floor idea will be the hardest part - the rest is just physiotherapy.
So let’s get real here first. There will be no further mention of the terms lady parts or private areas within this post and the next ones. Everybody has their own pelvic floor and genitalia, and euphemisms bring us very little benefit in making everyone comfortable in discussing pelvic floor issues. Because ultimately, it seems, a huge part of the problem is that it is the discussion part that is missing in identifying pelvic floor problems. As well, these issues have somehow become normalized in general knowledge, with people assuming that a little bit of incontinence or pelvic pain is to be expected as you age, or while you’re pregnant or after giving birth.
The warm and happy thought here is that, there’s no need to fret - we can help! There’s no need to keep it a secret, or discuss it in hushed tones with a very close friend or that one trusted health professional. Pelvic health concerns, much like all other aches and pains that you’d normally see a physio for, should not be a constant source of stress, anxiety and social discomfort.
So let us take the weight off your chest, by working with you to develop that key part of your core - your pelvic floor.
Talk to us if you have any questions or concerns. And if you have a lot of them - don’t hesitate to request a 15-minute phone call appointment with me (Nicole), to see if our pelvic floor services here at Park Lawn Physiotherapy would be the best fit for you.
Do I need Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy?
You’re probably hoping that you don’t, but there’s a chance that you do.
Pelvic floor problems can manifest in many different ways, but incontinence is the most commonly known and prevalent issue.
According to the Canadian continence foundation:
“As many as 3.3 million Canadians - nearly 10% of the population - experience some form of urinary incontinence… [and] according to the Canadian Urinary Bladder Survey, 16% of men and 33% of women over the age of 40 have symptoms of urinary incontinence but only 26% have discussed with their doctor.” 1
Let’s face it - talking about incontinence is far from lighthearted conversation. Oftentimes, people tend to keep it to themselves - so much so that most would probably choose to believe that it’s just normal to pee a little when they cough, sneeze, laugh out loud, or even when lifting heavy things during exercise or with regular tasks.
The truth is that that is what we consider as stress incontinence, and it’s a sign of pelvic floor dysfunction. As much as I dislike using that word in practice, dysfunction means that there is something off with the muscles and possibly the structures around it, which makes it less able to perform its functions.
The good thing here is that, just like the other muscles around your other joints, the muscles of the pelvic floor can be trained as well!
So think about it, if you find yourself experiencing the following things:
Very strong and/or uncontrollable urges to go to the bathroom
Urine and/or fecal leakage
Urinating more than 8 times a day
Difficulty with urinating / initiating a urine stream / burning with urination
Pelvic pain during or after bowel movement
Struggle with having regular bowel movement
Pelvic pain or pressure or feeling that something is bulging out/down
Vaginal or penile pain
Significant pain with menstruation (requiring medications or other intervention)
It’s likely worth your time to consult with a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
Adapted from Pelvic Health Solutions:
Screening for Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: A Validation Study
Pelvic floor physiotherapists receive additional specialized training on the internal examination of the vagina and rectum, and are able to diagnose and treat physical imbalances within the pelvic structures.
Talk to us if you have any questions or concerns. And if you have a lot of them - don’t hesitate to request a 15-minute phone call appointment with Nicole, our pelvic floor physiotherapist, to see if our pelvic floor services here at Park Lawn Physiotherapy would be the best fit for you.
1 Learn about Bladder Health and the Causes of Incontinence. (2018). Retrieved from http://www.canadiancontinence.ca/EN/