As a physiotherapist with a passion for Women’s Health, I often chat to my patients/friends/colleagues (basically anyone who will listen!) about the importance of a strong and healthy pelvic floor.
The first comment I hear is: “You do Physio, WHERE??!”
Once the person has gotten over the shock that some physiotherapists are trained to internally assess and treat the pelvic region in females AND males, we often start unpacking some very real statistics.
- 1 in 3 women leak urine
- 1 in 5 women have some faecal incontinence
- Wearing a tampon/ having sexual relations is not meant to be painful
When we exchange “Howzits” we might get a reply that someone has a headache, or a really sore back, or even a torn calf muscle. I have never heard anyone complain that their bladder is faulty, or that they are in excruciating menstrual related pain! Someone might flippantly say “I laughed so hard that I peed myself!” This is common, but definitely not normal…More importantly, there is help available to treat all these conditions.
So what is the pelvic floor and why is it so important?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles sitting like a hammock or sling and forms the “floor” of the pelvis. These muscles serve many important roles within the pelvic cavity e.g. to support our organs like the bladder, bowel and uterus.
If they do not function properly, it could lead to leaking of the bladder and/or bowel; sexual dysfunction or prolapse of pelvic organs.
Symptoms of a poorly functioning pelvic floor can include:
- Stress Incontinence (leaking urine with cough/laugh/sneeze)
- Urge Incontinence (inability to control bladder e.g. urgency)
- Faecal (bowel) incontinence
- Chronic constipation
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse
- Low back pain especially felt in the coccyx (tailbone) or sacrum
- Chronic pelvic pain (for more information click here www.pelvicpainclinic.co.za)
- Interstitial Cystitis (recurrent bladder infections and bladder pain syndrome)
- Pain with sexual intercourse (Pain with penetration, during intercourse and pain afterwards)
If these symptoms sound familiar, ask your GP/Gynae/Physio to refer you to a physiotherapist who is trained specifically to treat these conditions.
Knowledge is power, so even if this does not affect you – consider sharing this information because you might never know who is secretly suffering these debilitating, but totally treatable conditions!