What is women’s health?
Women’s health (or pelvic floor) physical therapy is a specialized form of therapy that includes exercise, manual therapy, and education to treat problems unique to the pelvic floor for people of all ages. These include, but are not limited to:
- Approximately 50% of women experience urinary incontinence during their lifetime.
- Incontinence is defined as any bowel or bladder leaking when you do not want to.
- There are many approaches to treating incontinence, with kegel exercises being only a small portion. Many times kegels are performed incorrectly or it’s necessary to teach a pelvic floor relaxation exercise first.
Pelvic floor physical therapy for pelvic muscle overactivity and underactivity has been proven to be a successful option for pelvic and sexual dysfunction. (Sex Med Rev. 2019 Jan;7(1):46-56. doi: 10.1016/j.sxmr.2018.09.003. Epub 2018 Nov 28.)
- Chronic pelvic pain is present in 14-32% of women worldwide and between 13-32% of these women have severe enough pain to miss work.
- Pelvic pain can can interfere with sexual relations, urination, bowel movements, wearing certain types of clothes/fabric, the ability to sit, stand, or exercise.
- Some causes of pelvic pain include, but are not limited to: endometriosis, vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, childbirth, and pelvic floor muscle tightness.
- reducing back pain
- ease constipation
- may reduce your risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and c-section
- promotes healthy weight gain during pregnancy
- improves your overall fitness and strengthens your heart and blood vessels
- helps you lose the baby weight after your baby is born
- guidance for safe exercise during pregnancy
- preparation for delivery
- common ailments treated with PT during pregnancy:
- c-section recovery
- scar mobilization
- specific return to sport and exercise after baby
- diastasis recti
Nearly one quarter of women in the United States suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction, including urinary or fecal incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse. Common symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include feelings of lower abdomen or pelvic heaviness, incontinence, and bowel dysfunction. Physical therapy can help you learn how to manage and reduce symptoms, as well as improve your tolerance to activity and exercise.
Physical therapists can check for Diastasis Recti, and prescribe specific and safe exercises to regain core strength.
What can I expect with a Pelvic Floor Evaluation from my physical therapist?
- You will be asked to fill out a medical intake form to help your physical therapist determine the best treatment and plan of care for your current condition. Please come at least 20 minutes early to your scheduled appointment or have these forms filled out prior to your arrival.
- You and your physical therapist will discuss your current symptoms, current and past medical history, and goals that are important to you.
- Your physical therapist will perform a postural examination, evaluation of movement in your low back, hips, and movements that are important to your goals.
- With your permission, your physical therapist will perform both an external and internal pelvic floor assessment, addressing how these muscles contract and relax.
- A treatment plan will be set up for your symptoms, findings from your evaluation, and what works best in your day to day life.
I have been experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, what should I do?
Call Columbia Gorge Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine to schedule an evaluation with Kristen Dills, PT, DPT or Lauren Bryan PT, DPT at 541-386-1211.
We also offer free, 15-minute consultations if you would like to discuss your symptoms with a PT before pursuing treatment options, and to determine if physical therapy is appropriate for you at this time.
Make an appointment with your primary care physician, gynecologist, or urologist to discuss your symptoms, and if a PT evaluation at Columbia Gorge Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine with a women’s health specialist would be appropriate.