If you have a pelvic floor disorder, you’re not alone. Approximately 27% of women ages 40-59 have this type of dysfunction. These numbers increase to nearly 50% of women age 80 and older, because pelvic floor muscles weaken with age.
Understanding pelvic floor dysfunction
Your pelvic floor is a complex structure of muscles, connective tissues, ligaments, and nerves that work together to support your uterus, bladder, vagina, and rectum. When it’s healthy, it functions like a trampoline and supports your pelvic organs. If it weakens or gets damaged, you can experience pelvic floor dysfunction.
There are different kinds of pelvic floor disorders, including:
- Pelvic pain: can occur internally or externally in the pelvic area
- Urinary or fecal incontinence: a loss of bladder or bowel control
- Pelvic organ prolapse: The uterus, bladder, bowel, or rectum protrude into the vaginal canal
When it comes to maintaining pelvic floor health, many women try Kegel exercises or other self-help solutions. But, for some women, these approaches can do more harm than good. Instead, we recommend pelvic floor physical therapy as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
How pelvic floor physical therapy works
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help restore strength and function to the muscles supporting your pelvic organs. At our office, our specially trained experts rely on biofeedback, exercises, electrical stimulation, or a combination of these techniques.
Biofeedback focuses on retraining muscles so you can learn how to strengthen and relax them. This painless process involves special sensors and a computer that captures information about your muscular activity.
By using biofeedback, you can get real-time information about your pelvic floor muscle function. This will help you learn to control muscles in the area.
Pelvic floor muscles can be difficult to isolate, and exercises involving them may not be easy to perform correctly. In fact, up to 50% of women perform pelvic floor exercises incorrectly when following a book or pamphlet. Plus, sometimes pelvic floor disorders respond better to exercises that relax or release muscles rather than strengthen them, so not all women should be doing Kegel exercises.
During pelvic floor physical therapy, our trained therapist will work closely with you to determine which pelvic floor exercises will be the most beneficial based on your condition. We’ll also ensure that you use proper techniques.
Electrical stimulation is a painless approach that uses a low-grade current to trigger muscle contractions in your pelvic floor.
With this therapy, a tiny probe is inserted into your vagina for 20-30 minutes. The FDA-approved device, similar in size to a tampon, emits low-grade signals. These signals then trigger nerve and muscle responses, which can rejuvenate tissue in the area and help restore your pelvic floor health.
What to expect from pelvic floor physical therapy
During your consultation, we’ll review your personal and medical history as well as your symptoms. This conversation will likely include questions about your pain, diet, bladder and bowel habits, lifestyle choices, and more. The more information we have, the better we’ll be able to create a plan that will help treat your pelvic floor dysfunction.
We’ll also perform internal and external evaluations of your pelvic floor. The internal assessment might include your vagina and rectum. This step is essential for checking the length, strength, and quality of your pelvic floor. We’ll also look for tension and trigger points during this portion of your assessment.
After your assessment, we’ll provide detailed information on our findings and provide recommendations for a treatment strategy. You can rest easy knowing that your comfort is our top priority, from your consultation to your course of treatment.
To learn more about pelvic floor physical therapy, book an appointment over the phone with Advanced Women’s Healthcare today.