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Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Women’s Health

Do you leak when you cough or sneeze? Do you have pain during sex? Have you been told Kegel exercises are the answer to your pelvic problem? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy. 

Gina Landry, PT, DPT

The skilled orthopedic specialists of the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin are here to help. Physical therapists Gina Landry, PT, DPT, of Shorewood Physical Therapy, and Michele Gross, PT, DPT, COMT, of Glendale Physical Therapy, are pelvic floor specialists. They are available to address issues caused by pelvic floor conditions and get you back to optimal function. 

Below, Gross describes pelvic floor physical therapy, the conditions it may help with, and the treatment process.

Michele Gross, PT, DPT, COMT

Providing Relief for Women’s Health Conditions 

The pelvic floor consists of the muscles that support the urinary and reproductive organs. It is a vital group of muscles that we use daily. When these muscles do not function as they should, you may be experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction. 

Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction:

  • Constipation
  • Peeing frequently
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Trouble controlling bowel movements
  • Pain during sex

While many of these symptoms are personal and are not often openly discussed, they are very common among women. 1 in 7 American women ages 18-50 suffers from pelvic pain. Urinary incontinence, or accidental urine leaks, is also a common experience among women. 

Who Suffers From Urinary Incontinence?

  • 25% of young women
  • 44-57% of middle-aged, postmenopausal women
  • 75% of older women in long term care settings

Common Types of Incontinence:

  • Stress incontinence – Involuntary leakage with physical exertion and/or increased abdominal pressure, which may occur with coughing, sneezing, laughing, etc.
  • Urge incontinence – Involuntary loss of urine that occurs when you have a strong, sudden desire to urinate that causes the bladder to spasm (Ex: leakage when you hear water running, when you are cold, or when you are putting a key in the door).
  • Mixed incontinence – A combination of urge and stress incontinence symptoms.

What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy? 

Pelvic floor physical therapy will strengthen, flex and relax the muscles of the pelvic floor. The goal is to help improve conditions that are often the result of pelvic muscle weakness or tightness. Pelvic floor muscle tone may become weakened or tight for several reasons. It can become stretched and loosen during childbirth or naturally due to aging. They may become too tight or restricted due to stress and anxiety. 

“Many different types of patients can benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy,” Gross said. “For example, we help patients who experience urinary incontinence, urinate more than eight times in twenty-four hours, experience pelvic pain with intercourse, urination, and bowel movements, have frequent constipation, or are experiencing any postpartum leakage.”

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Can Help With:

  • Woman in bridge post.Pelvic pain
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Overactive bladder
  • Prolapse
  • Postpartum women

Treatment and Evaluation

“Due to the personal nature of many pelvic floor conditions, we aim to first and foremost make sure that the patient is comfortable and understands the purpose before performing specific tests and assessments,” Gross said.

A comprehensive full-body assessment is necessary when being evaluated for a pelvic floor issue. First, a screening for non-PT-related diagnoses is necessary. Following, is a subjective evaluation of the history of your pelvic condition. As there are many other body systems involved when assessing the pelvic floor, we need to determine how other areas of the body may affect or be affected by your pelvic issue. This will allow us to create an individualized plan of care tailored to your needs and goals. 

We also will conduct a thorough assessment of your pain, soft tissue mobility, bladder patterns, strength, range of motion, breathing patterns, body mechanics, and posture. Depending on the patient’s comfort, an internal pelvic floor assessment may also be performed. This will help assess muscle tightness/tenderness, pelvic floor strength, and motor/muscle control.

​​Evaluation / Treatment May Include:

  • External and/or internal muscle assessment
  • Analysis of urinary habits
  • Breathwork
  • Pelvic floor strengthening
  • Postural restoration
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Bladder retraining

If you have been experiencing symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction that impact your daily functioning, do not hesitate to reach out to one of our pelvic floor specialists today.

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