Do you often ‘put your key in door’ and urgently run to the bathroom? Are you afraid you may have an ‘accident’ if you cough, sneeze, laugh or exert yourself physically? Have you had 1, 2 or more children and have difficulty returning to your pre-baby ‘inner works condition’?
Well, guess what? You’re not alone! Many of us are going about our day to day business holding onto a ‘little secret’ that is often accepted as ‘normal’, but in reality is certainly not!
Urinary Incontinence (UI) – which is the involuntary loss of any amount of urine or difficulty controlling your ‘waterworks’ is a common problem that affects more people than we think – in fact, it’s estimated that 3.3 millions Canadians have some form of incontinence, or difficulty with bladder control, including up to 55 percent of all women and 15 percent of men over the age of 55! This condition is particularly common among post –partum and pre-natal woman.
For all those mothers out there, you may also have other ‘secrets’ that are difficult to discuss. Let’s face it, after having even one baby, your body has gone through the longest marathon in history and your body needs major fine tuning, in particular your ‘inner works (the pelvic floor muscles)’. Do you ever think that this is ‘the natural part of having a baby’, and that your body has been so traumatized from childbirth that it’ll never ‘get back to normal’? Fortunately, this is not the case. There is effective treatment for both these common ‘secrets’, which is: ‘Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation/Physiotherapy’.
WHAT is PELVIC FLOOR REHABILITATION/PHYSIOTHERAPY?
Pelvic floor rehabilitation (PFR) is rehabilitation of the ‘waterworks and inner systems’. It involves treatment of the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) which play a major role in controlling your ability to hold urine and supporting your pelvic organs in the correct places. A physiotherapist who is trained in the pelvic floor applies various techniques such as biofeedback, electrical stimulation and manual therapy to ‘awaken and facilitate’ normal strength, control and endurance of these hidden but important muscles.
WHAT are the PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES?
The pelvic floor muscles are muscles that form a ‘sling’ or ‘funnel’ shape at the base of your pelvis. Picture the ‘bottom’ of your purse: Their main function is to keep all your pelvic organs and contents ‘in the right place’ and because they are so closely associated with the bladder and rectum, they also keep ‘check’ on your urinary and bowel systems. You’ve probably come across the word ‘Kegel’? Well, this term refers to specific exercises that are tailored to recruit and retrain the PF muscles.
WHO would BENEFIT FROM PFR?
- Pelvic floor weakness, hypotonicity (low tone – you feel ‘softer than normal’)
• Urinary incontinence and other bladder problems (even small ‘leakages’ can be treated!)
• Women’s health issues (ie. pre and post-natal problems)
• Pelvic pain and pain with sexual intercourse
• Prolapses (ie. bladder, rectal or uterus – aren’t ‘held in place’ and descend down)
• Rectal problems and other bowel system disorders
• Men’s health issues (prostate, urinary and bladder problems)
Did you know that recent research has shown that over half of the woman that receive instructions on performing ‘Kegel’ exercises, including patients who believe they have mastered the technique, perform these exercises ineffectively? Studies have also shown that treatment by a physiotherapist trained in pelvic floor rehabilitation to also be more effective. A definite link to incontinence and pelvic floor dysfunction has also been found.
And lastly, here’s an important fact – working the pelvic floor muscles have other bonuses besides keeping your waterworks and inner systems in check; it also can improve your sexual response through increased sensation.
With all this new information in mind, take care of your body and get a tune- up soon!
With respect to pain during intercourse, also know as dyspareunia, please refer to the article
‘Pain during intercourse – a common yet treatable problem – Part I and II’. PFR is very effective in treating this problem that surprisingly affects about 10-15% of women!