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pelvic floor - what is pelvic floor therapy

What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?

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Like most people, you probably don’t know much about pelvic floor physical therapy. Many people immediately associate it with pregnant women and post-natal care. Still, the truth is that pelvic floor therapy or pelvic floor physical therapy can benefit anyone with pelvic health issues, regardless of their age or gender identity. 

This type of therapy focuses on rehabilitating and strengthening the muscles and tissues of the pelvic floor, which can help improve bladder and bowel control, sexual function, and pain relief. Keep reading to learn more about pelvic floor physical therapy and whether it might be a good fit for you.

What Is The Pelvic Floor?

A pelvic floor is a group of muscles and tissues that forms a bowl-shaped “hammock” at the base of the pelvis. These muscles and tissues support the bladder, bowel, and uterus (in women) and are responsible for controlling urinary and fecal function. The pelvic floor also plays a vital role in sexual function and pleasure.

What Are Some Common Problems That Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Treats?

Some of the problems you can treat with pelvic floor physical therapy include:

Urinary Incontinence

One of the most common issues regarding the pelvic floor is urinary incontinence. This condition is characterized by a loss of bladder control, leading to urine leakage during activities like coughing, laughing, or sneezing. It can be caused by weak pelvic floor muscles, nerve damage, or a combination of the two. It cannot be enjoyable for many people. Fortunately, pelvic floor physical therapy is highly effective at treating this condition.

Fecal Incontinence

Fecal incontinence can be caused by many factors, including weakened pelvic floor tissues or muscles, inflammatory bowel disease, and nerve damage. Symptoms of this condition include unintentional leakage of stool from the body. It can be pretty distressing for those who suffer from it. However, a pelvic floor physical therapist will work with you to address your specific needs based on your condition and symptoms, leading to improved control over bowel function and decreased symptoms of fecal incontinence.

Pelvic Pain

Many people suffer from chronic pelvic pain, which is often caused by muscle tension in the pelvic floor area. A physical therapist will work with you to identify the root cause of your pain and help you develop an individualized treatment plan to address it. It may include pelvic floor muscle exercises, manual therapy, and electrical stimulation.

Constipation

Another issue that many people deal with regularly is constipation. Constipation typically results from poor muscle function in the pelvic area, and having weak muscles there can make passing bowel movements very difficult. However, through targeted exercises, pelvic floor physical therapy can help strengthen these muscles so that you no longer need to worry about this issue.

Painful Sex (Dyspareunia)

It is pain during intercourse that can occur in either men or women. It may be caused by vaginal dryness, scarring following childbirth or surgery, or infection.

How Does Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Help Treat These Conditions?

Pelvic floor physical therapy works to strengthen and rehabilitate the muscles and tissues of the pelvic floor through various techniques, including targeted exercises, massage, stretching, and electrical stimulation therapies.

It typically involves a combination of exercises and manual techniques. The exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, while the manual techniques can help release any tension or spasms that may be present. They can help improve bladder and bowel control, sexual function, and pain relief. Your therapist will develop a custom treatment plan based on your individual needs and goals.

Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Only For Women?

No, pelvic floor physical therapy is not only for women. Men can also benefit from this type of treatment, as it can help with issues such as impotence and premature ejaculation. So if you are experiencing any pelvic pain or dysfunction, then it is worth talking to your doctor or a qualified physical therapist about the possibility of trying pelvic floor physical therapy.

How Do I Find A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist?

There are many ways to find a pelvic floor physical therapist. You can ask your doctor for a referral, online search directories like the American Physical Therapy Association’s “Find a PT” tool, or look for an expert in your area through the International Pelvic Pain Society’s directory.

What Can I Expect During My First Visit?

During your first visit, your pelvic floor physical therapist will likely conduct a comprehensive assessment of your pelvic health, including muscle and nerve testing and palpation of the pelvic floor muscles and tissues. They will then develop a customized treatment plan based on their findings, including targeted exercises, massage, stretching techniques, electrical stimulation therapy, or other treatments. You can expect to see improvements in your condition after just a few sessions on the pelvic floor.

Conclusion

Pelvic floor physical therapy can be an extremely effective treatment for various pelvis conditions, including urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, constipation, and pain during sex. If you are experiencing any of these issues, talk to your doctor or a qualified physical therapist about the possibility of trying pelvic floor physical therapy.

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