What is Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy?
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is an area of physiotherapy which deals with issues related to the pelvic bones, muscles, and organs (bowel, bladder, and uterus). The health of this area of the body is important for urinary and bowel function, sexual health, peri-natal care, and overall core strength. Physiotherapists who practice pelvic floor PT have the same university-level training as other licensed physiotherapists, plus extra training in pelvic floor dysfunction.
People of all sex and gender identities see pelvic floor physios for a variety of reasons. You can read more about the scope of pelvic floor physiotherapy here.
What Happens at a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy Appointment?
The first session is typically spent learning about you! Different things to expect might include:
- Discussing topics such as your medical history and general health, as well as what you are hoping to get out of physical therapy.
- A physical exam to look at your muscles and joints, breathing and posture.
- An internal exam is only done with your full consent after it is explained to you. This helps us to get as much information as possible, but treatment can often be done without an internal exam if you are not comfortable with it. If an internal exam is suggested, this exam is performed with gloves and lubrication and is generally a vaginal or rectal exam depending on what is appropriate for you. This exam is done to examine how your pelvic floor muscles are working and helps to determine if there are other factors that may be contributing to your symptoms.
- After the assessment is complete your physiotherapist will discuss their findings with you.
- A treatment plan will be made with you and your goals in mind; including any homework or exercises to do, release techniques, pain or incontinence management strategies, and when/how often to come back.
- You are in control – you choose which aspects of the treatment you would like to participate in at that time.
- Finally, you can expect a compassionate, caring physiotherapist whose goal is to help you achieve your goals!
What if I’m Embarrassed?
We see this all the time – people who might benefit from physio but are embarrassed to talk about what’s going on. It’s totally understandable – these things can feel weird to talk about if it isn’t something you discuss regularly!
At Reformotiv Physio & Pilates, we understand the sensitive nature of pelvic floor physio and will always remind you that you don’t have to discuss anything you aren’t ready to. However, it can help to keep in mind that your physio has similar conversations all day – we are passionate about this area of practice and want to do what we can to help!
If there is anything your physio can do to make you feel more comfortable during your appointment, please let them know. They will be happy to accommodate you in feeling safe and supported during your appointment and beyond.
What Sort of Treatments Can I Expect?
Many treatment options used in pelvic floor physio are similar to those used in “regular” physio, but adapted to treat pelvic health conditions specifically. Your treatment plan may include:
- Education about your symptoms or condition
- Muscle activation strategies
- Soft tissue work including techniques to release tight muscles
- Breathing techniques
- Pain management strategies (including pain with sex and genital stimulation)
- Pelvic floor exercises designed to improve your muscle coordination, strength and endurance.
- Integrating your pelvic floor with the rest of your body during functional tasks.
- Your physiotherapist may also offer information on techniques and positions for pushing during delivery if you are pregnant.
Why Should I Get an Assessment?
If you have been dealing with any pelvic-floor related dysfunction then you may have noticed it impacting your quality of life. People frequently report embarrassment, decreased participation in social activities and exercise, and difficulty with their daily activities such as working or maintaining relationships.
If you have any symptoms associated with pelvic floor dysfunction such as urinary or fecal leakage (read more about incontinence here), genital pain, pain with intercourse, or hip/pelvis/abdominal pain, you may benefit from a pelvic floor physio assessment to determine if this type of treatment is appropriate for you. Other reasons people commonly see a pelvic floor physio can be found here.
Benefits of Pelvic Floor Physio
People who participate in pelvic floor physiotherapy often report an improvement in pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms, improved overall quality of life, and improved urinary control.1,2 Pelvic floor physiotherapy can also reduce sexual pain, and improve sexual function and satisfaction.3
For those who are pregnant, pelvic floor physio may help reduce incontinence during pregnancy, and may shorten the pushing stage of labour.4 Having a baseline of good pelvic floor control before the delivery of your baby may also make it easier to recover from pelvic floor dysfunction down the line.
If you are interested in pelvic floor physiotherapy in Vancouver but want more information, feel free to book a complimentary consultation with one of our highly qualified pelvic floor physiotherapists at Reformotiv Physio & Pilates. We look forward to meeting you and helping you reach your goals!
Written by: Meghan Hunt, Physiotherapist
- Fitz FF, Costa TF, Yamamoto DM, Resende AP, Stüpp L, Sartori MG, Girão MJ, Castro RA. Impact of pelvic floor muscle training on the quality of life in women with urinary incontinence. Revista da Associação Médica Brasileira. 2012;58:155-9.
- Radzimińska A, Strączyńska A, Weber-Rajek M, Styczyńska H, Strojek K, Piekorz Z. The impact of pelvic floor muscle training on the quality of life of women with urinary incontinence: a systematic literature review. Clinical interventions in aging. 2018;13:957.
- Morin M, Dumoulin C, Bergeron S, Mayrand MH, Khalifé S, Waddell G, Dubois MF, Girard I, Bureau YA, Ouellet S, Reichetzer B. Multimodal physical therapy versus topical lidocaine for provoked vestibulodynia: a multicenter, randomized trial. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology. 2021 Feb 1;224(2):189-e1.
- Schreiner L, Crivelatti I, de Oliveira JM, Nygaard CC, Dos Santos TG. Systematic review of pelvic floor interventions during pregnancy. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics. 2018 Oct;143(1):10-8.