There are many causes of pelvic floor weakness, the most common being pregnancy and childbirth. However pelvic floor dysfunction is not only reserved for those who have had children. Constipation, a longstanding cough, repeated lifting, overweight, smoking and some keep-fit exercises can weaken the pelvic floor. Increasing age and hormonal changes around menopause can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction. Overactive pelvic floors are not uncommon and can be as problematic as weak muscles, so guidance is necessary for good outcomes. Symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction include leakage, urgency to go, incomplete emptying, discomfort due to pelvic organ prolapse, painful intercourse, to name a few.
Most women may be familiar with ‘Kegel exercises’ (as first described by Dr Arnold Kegel in 1948!), but few really know how to do these or feel confident that they are doing it correctly. Then there are the questions of ‘how much is enough’ and ‘how often should I do these to make a difference’? As mentioned before, pelvic floor dysfunction is not necessarily a problem of muscle weakness, but can relate to non-relaxing, uptight muscles that has nothing more to give!
Considering the complexity of the pelvic floor it needs specialist attention when something goes wrong. Pelvic floor training goes well and beyond strength training, and may require relaxation techniques, ‘reverse-Kegels’, stretches, manual therapy and adjunctive therapies (i.e. biofeedback or electrical stimulation).
It is important to get it right, and Women’s Health Physiotherapists have the knowledge and skills to help you with this.