Many people do not know that there is an area of physiotherapy that is traditionally known only for doctors to deal with. That is the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor physiotherapy for women and men is very slowly gaining the attention it deserves from society to be an area that is worth looking into and treating when issues arise. Far too many people have believed that leaking urine is a normal occurrence. It is just like saying that 60% of the population is overweight or obese. It doesn’t mean that we should just accept it as an inevitability. Trying to address the issue will lead to better health. We need to think about being obese is like having pelvic floor issues. We need to do something about it. Whether it’s leakage, pain, prolapse, wounds or rehabilitation after surgery of the pelvic floor.
Having had a baby often can involve leakage for 1 in 3 women. Some women may also have perineal tears that have issues with scar tissue sensitivity or tightness. All this can be treated. Seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist after having a baby should be standard practice to ensure healing and function is restored as soon as possible.
Another example is that after men have prostate surgery, incontinence can happen in 6-8% of patients which can last up to 12 months or longer. Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help with training the pelvic floor muscle to activate and strengthen over time. Using a real time ultrasound can be a good way to do this so you can see on the screen when you are doing a pelvic floor contraction correctly or not.
There is a difference between urge incontinence and stress incontinence. Urge incontinence is when you leak when you feel that you can’t hold on. Stress incontinence is usually from developing pressures in your abdomen to cause you to leak like from coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting or jumping. Those people with severe stress incontinence or prolapse may need surgery. But less severe forms of stress incontinence and prolapse as well as urge incontinence can be treated with physiotherapy successfully. Even if you are looking to have surgery for incontinence or for your prostate, it is recommended to have pelvic floor physiotherapy before and after to optimise your pelvic floor muscle function. This will minimise any issues after surgery and accelerate the rehabilitation process.
Other issues of the pelvic floor that physiotherapy can help with is prolapse where your organs can be bulging out of your vagina or rectum, pelvic pain where women or men have pain in or around the genitals. This can be with or without sexual intercourse. Women may have issues with inserting tampons. Both men and women may also experience urinary or bowel urgency. All these issues can be addressed with physiotherapy.
So like with all areas of your health, it is better to be proactive rather than reactive when your quality of life has been affected for so long. You could be enjoying life more if the issues that are stopping you from living life to the full are addressed sooner rather than later. See your pelvic floor physiotherapist for an assessment to get you on the right track again.