What is a Women’s Health Physiotherapist?
Whether you are pregnant, trying to conceive, have a newborn baby, have children or have no children, every woman can benefit from seeing a Women’s Health Physiotherapist.
A Women’s Health Physiotherapist is a post graduate trained practitioner who treats a multitude of problems affecting women through all life’s stages. Common presentations include:
- Urinary and Faecal Incontinence Urinary Urge and Frequency
- Pelvic Organ Prolapse
- Diastasis Recti (Abdominal Separation)
- Musculoskeletal pain or injury (e.g back, pelvis, hips)
- Internal pelvic pain
- Sexual pain or dysfunction
- Breast engorgement/Mastitis
- Post baby recovery
A session with a specialised Physiotherapist involves a thorough discussion with you about your complaint, a whole-body assessment looking at your posture and alignment and an internal and/or external examination to evaluate your pelvic floor and how it interacts with the rest of your body.
The pelvic floor is a dynamic set of muscles that sit at the base of your pelvis. They provide support to the pelvic organs, stabilise the lower back and pelvis, play a role in sexual function and control the openings during toileting. For one reason or other, overtime as a society we have learnt to hold and tense our pelvic floor and core in attempt that it will provide support to the rest of our body. This poor pelvic floor muscle control and imbalance is often the root cause of many Women’s Health symptoms like leakage and pain. Properly controlling the pelvic floor and core muscles involves knowing how to fully relax these muscles as well as contracting them and most importantly how to engage them correctly through movement.
So how do I know if I need to see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist?
Common signs and symptoms of a problem with your pelvic floor that should be further evaluated include:
- Accidentally leaking urine (a little or a lot) when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
- Needing to go to the toilet in a hurry or not making it there in time
- Needing to go to the toilet frequently
- Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel
- Accidental loss of faeces or wind
- A prolapse – this may feel like a heaviness, pulling down, dragging sensation or a bulge in the vagina may be felt or seen
- Pelvic pain
- Pain during or after intercourse
- Poor bladder sensation
- Not being able to achieve the flat abs that you dream about (AKA not engaging your core to its best potential)
Again, our society has slowly but surely normalised pelvic floor problems (especially leakage) and the symptoms mentioned above have been brushed under the carpet as normal occurrences following pregnancy, childbirth and ageing. These problems are certainly common, but they are not normal no matter how many ads you see on television promoting sanitary pads for leakage.
Current research shows that most pelvic problems are treatable and in fact curable no matter what age you are and how long you have had your symptoms for. In fact, research has shown that Women’s Health Physiotherapy is the gold standard first line treatment for these symptoms ahead of any other intervention including surgery.
If you suspect you have a pelvic floor problem or you would like more information on what a Women’s Health Physiotherapist does, please contact Shelley Kennedy from Nest Physiotherapy or visit her website www.nestphysiotherapy.com.au.