Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy Vancouver
What is Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy?
Do you ever wonder why there is leakage when you sneeze or cough? How about needing to use the toilet more frequently after birth? Or getting up to use the bathroom throughout the night?
No, these are not normal pregnancy or age-related changes, nor do they mean that you have a small bladder! The answer actually lies within your pelvic floor, an area where there are layers of muscles that work together to control your bowel and bladder functions, as well as support and stabilize your pelvic girdle. As such, when pelvic floor muscles are not functioning well, it may result in pelvic floor conditions such as urinary incontinence and frequency, to name a few.
Research has shown that interventions carried out by a physiotherapist for pelvic floor problems are highly successful and should be the first line of treatment for incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic pain. A pelvic floor physiotherapist is a specialized healthcare professional certified to assess your pelvic floor muscles internally and develop an individualized treatment plan that suits you.
WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM PELVIC FLOOR PHYSIOTHERAPY?
Listed below are some common signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction which may benefit from pelvic floor treatment. Consider booking a pelvic floor physiotherapy appointment if you experience any of the following:
- Urinary or fecal incontinence (i.e. a leak with a cough/sneeze)
- Increased frequency of urination
- Increased sense of urgency to void with or without associated leakage
- Incomplete emptying
- Feelings of pressure in the vagina
- Pelvic organ prolapse (cystocele, uterocele, & rectocele)
- Chronic or persistent hip, low back, pelvic, or sacroiliac joint painPre and post-partum women’s health
Is pelvic floor physiotherapy just kegels?
Not quite! Kegels are just one type of exercise that can be performed using your pelvic floor muscles. Even though Kegels are widely known, they’re not always done correctly (i.e. contracting the right muscles), and that’s where pelvic floor physiotherapy comes in! With pelvic floor physiotherapy, you can expect to learn more than just how to do Kegels correctly (or sometimes not all at, if your pelvic floor physiotherapist determines that they’re not the right exercise for you). You’ll also learn to develop awareness of your pelvic floor, how to activate the right muscles, and be given tips on how modifying your lifestyle can help alleviate symptoms.
What is an internal exam, and why do I need to have one?
An internal examination is performed by observing, palpating, and/or inserting a gloved finger into the perineal region including the vagina and/or rectum. This evaluation will assess skin condition, reflexes, muscle tone, length, strength and endurance, scar mobility, and function of the pelvic floor region.
The reason we do an internal exam is because this is the international gold standard by which assessment and treatment of the pelvic floor is carried out. However, we recognize and understand that the idea of an internal exam of the vagina or rectum can be a sensitive and uncomfortable experience for some. Your pelvic floor physiotherapist will always ask for your consent before proceeding with an internal exam, and you have the right to withdraw that consent at any time.
How often do I need to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist to see results?
Like any condition, treatment frequency and prognosis are guided by individual factors. In general, expect at least 6-8 sessions, recommended once per week, to start seeing changes.
When is the best time to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist if I’m pregnant?
Pelvic floor physiotherapy can start any time before, during, or after pregnancy. The goal of treatment will vary depending on how far along you are, so book a pelvic floor physiotherapy session to find out what suits you!
What To Expect During A Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy Appointment?
Your first session will be an 1-hour initial assessment. Your physiotherapist will begin with a thorough review of your current symptoms, past medical history (e.g. obstetric history, previous surgeries, medications, etc..), and goals. To assist your physiotherapist with gathering all the relevant information available, you will be asked to fill out an in-depth subjective questionnaire prior to your appointment.
A physical exam will follow, which will consist of assessing your posture, breathing, and movement patterns. An external and/or internal examination (vaginal and/or rectal) may be performed to determine the strength and tension of the pelvic floor muscles to better identify the source of your symptoms. Your physiotherapist will walk you through what to expect every step of the way, and will maintain your dignity and comfort at all times with proper draping. You will be asked to provide consent every time before proceeding with any assessment and treatment, and you have the right to withdraw your consent at any time.
In follow up treatment sessions, you can expect ongoing education, hands-on manual therapy, and individualized exercise programs.