The post today was two years in the making; I knew after my 1st son was born my body was off. I had an episiotomy, and even a tampon hurt to insert (not sure how we have a 2nd baby), I also had a 2 finger Diastasis recti not too crazy. Also, I would randomly pee myself… yup I felt like a total babe! I knew this didn’t have to be this way, but I thought the only peeps that could help me were in Toronto.
So 7 weeks after my 2nd was born I looked up Jennifer from Fit Mom and I learned more about my now 3 finger Diastasis recti, from there she told me about a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist in a clinic 5 minutes from my house. Happy Dance! That was until till I got a finger in my pooper…. it isn’t for the faint at heart, but its one of the best things I have done for myself since my son’s birth. That and my new rocker haircut and DJ Tanner T-Shirt!! So since I got to know my physiotherapist so intimately I decided the masses needed to know about this. So I asked the sweet, brilliant and small fingered Victoria to write a post about what exactly a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist is.
If only I earned a dollar every time I heard a new patient admit to me, “I had no idea this type of physiotherapy existed!” Instead of writing this guest blog, I would be relaxing on a lake up north at my dream cabin. Alas, this is only a fantasy. But seriously, I LOVE being a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Despite having to constantly explain what I do for a living, it is very fulfilling and I could not imagine my life being any other way. So now to elaborate on what in the heck I am talking about anyways for all of you who, like my patients, have never heard of this before… (And hopefully after reading this you too will pass this knowledge forward J )
In a nutshell, as a pelvic floor physiotherapist, I address the many issues that can arise when pelvic floor dysfunction sets in.
- Urinary incontinence (the involuntary loss of urine) – often an embarrassing event that happens at all the wrong times. Like when you are busting your butt at boot camp in attempts to lose those stubborn 10 lbs.! Or simply when you cough, sneeze, or laugh. And how about those times when you really, really, really need to go to the bathroom and you don’t make it in time.
- Painful sex – yes ladies AND gents – pain with sex is NOT a problem you need to suffer through. This includes pain with penetration; pain felt deeply; and pain with erection, ejaculation or orgasm. Suddenly something you once thought pleasurable is now something you try to avoid.
- Pelvic organ prolapse – ever felt heaviness in your nether regions? Noticed a bulging/protrusion through your vagina that you know wasn’t there before? This can be the bladder, uterus, urethra and/or rectum poorly supported by the pelvic floor muscles.
- Core instability – have you been suffering from a nagging low back issue or hip pain that does not seem to go away no matter what you do? All diagnostic imaging tests show up normal? This can be the result of a poorly functioning core, which includes the teamwork of many muscles including those of the pelvic floor.
- Urinary urgency and frequency – does it seem like you are peeing all the time? Do you know where all the bathrooms are everywhere you go? Are your bladder habits keeping you from leaving the house? Pelvic floor muscle tension and your bladder behaviors might be keeping you chained to the bathroom.
- Fecal incontinence (the involuntary loss of stool) and chronic constipation – Both having an inability to hold your stool and an inability to pass your stool can result from an inefficient pelvic floor system.
- Pregnancy-related or post-partum pelvic girdle pain – Noticed that standing on one leg is excruciating? Having pain when you make transitional movements like standing from sitting, or turning over in bed? Having trouble climbing stairs, walking up inclines and sitting for too long? You might be experiencing the aftermath of hormones that have loosened your pelvis to prepare your body to welcome baby into the world! It might also be the result of poor postural alignment as your body changed/is changing at an alarming rate.
- There are also several conditions that some of you may have heard of or been diagnosed with that create pain and can significantly impact your quality of life. These include: vaginismus, chronic prostatitis, vulvodynia, vestibulodynia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and pudendal neuralgia.
So now that I have elaborated on what pelvic floor dysfunction can cause, understanding what the pelvic floor is and does is essential to fully appreciate this wonderful system!
Without delving too deeply into our anatomy, your pelvic floor is a network of muscles that resembles a salad bowl. These muscles attach front to back (from pubic bone to tailbone) and side-to-side (one sitz bone to the other) and they work tirelessly to provide us with 5 key functions:
- Keeps your pee and poo under control
- Holds up your bladder, uterus, and rectum
- Helps you enjoy a healthy sex life by facilitating both arousal and orgasm
- Is a key “core” team player – of which your 6-pack abs is not a part of! – keeping your spine, pelvis, and hips in good order and happy too J
- A friend to the circulatory system by playing its part as a “sump pump” helping to return lost fluid and blood back to the heart and its vessels
So let’s just say – the pelvic floor is a friend to us all…as long as it is in good working order that is. If you think you might need a tune-up after reading this, please make the choice to be proactive about your pelvic health and visit a pelvic floor physiotherapist today. I cannot stress how important it is to have a proper assessment by a trained professional. Kegels are no longer the mainstay treatment. Our pelvic health is more complex than that and so deserves the proper guidance. I promise you won’t regret it!
Wishing you all happy and healthy pelvic floors!
Victoria Payne BScH MScPT
Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Want to find a pelvic floor physiotherapist in your area, please go to http://www.pelvichealthsolutions.ca to find out more today!