Some of you have probably never heard of pelvic floor physical therapy before, and that’s a shame. It’s an extremely helpful treatment option for a variety of difficult medical conditions. Your pelvic floor rests across your pelvic bowl area like a hammock, and supports the pelvic organs (the uterus, bladder, and rectum). It also assists with urinary and anal continence and serves a role in core strength and orgasm. People of all genders have a pelvic floor.
A lot of things can weaken the pelvic floor, including pregnancy, childbirth, and aging, resulting in pelvic pain as well as bladder, bowel, and sexual dysfunctions. Additionally, did you know that 30% of women experienced pain during their last sexual encounter? 30%!
The first step of pelvic floor physical therapy is gathering the client’s history, ascertaining their goals, and providing education about how the pelvic floor works. This is followed by a manual examination. From there, physical therapists use a combination of manual therapy, pelvic floor exercises, biofeedback, and/or vaginal dilators. Patients are seen for regular appointments and are given exercises to complete at home.
Pelvic floor PT can be effective at treating a wide array of conditions, including:
Pain with tampon insertion or OB/GYN examinations
Urinary urgency and frequency
Pelvic and/or lower abdominal pain
Pelvic floor PT can also be used to prepare transgender patients for gender confirmation surgery, and to facilitate healing post-surgery.
Recently, researchers at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University found that 30% of women experienced pain during their last sexual encounter. Even though sexual pain is widespread, it often takes a very long time for a woman to get diagnosed with a sexual pain condition. I have heard horror stories from clients who were told by their doctors that their pain was “all in their head” or that they needed to “just have a glass of wine.” I’ve heard of doctors recommending a shot of alcohol or an anti-anxiety medication right before sex.
Most traditional physicians are ill-equipped to deal with sexual pain even though the reality is that there’s almost always a physical cause. A good PT will work with you to uncover the root of your pain and discomfort and develop a targeted game plan for relief.
Even if you’ve never heard of pelvic floor physical therapy before, you’ve probably heard about the field’s most popular exercise: kegels. There has been an explosion of articles about kegels in the last few years, and there are also a ton of kegel trainers on the market purporting to help you get your kegel muscles into tip-top shape. Kegel exercises can have great benefits, including stronger orgasms and greater urinary control. However, about half of all women are doing kegels incorrectly, and around 25% are doing them in a way that could make their other symptoms worse. If you’re currently experiencing sexual pain, urinary urgency or frequency, bladder pain, urge incontinence, constipation, rectal pain or any pelvic pain, avoid kegels and check in with a PT first. Kintsugi Physical Therapy and Wellness can help guide you safely and effectively towards your best Pelvic Floor goal and outcomes.