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What is the Pelvic Floor?

Updated: Oct 10, 2023

The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that sit at the base of the pelvis and play a crucial role in supporting the pelvic organs: the bladder, bowel and reproductive organs. These muscles are responsible for controlling urinary and bowel function, sexual function and have a role in providing stability to the trunk. When pelvic floor muscles aren’t working effectively or are weakened, it can lead to a range of issues that can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.

This is where pelvic floor physiotherapy can assist.

Pelvic floor dysfunction - Is the inability of the pelvic floor muscles to function properly, resulting in a wide range of symptoms including:

  1. Urinary issues - including urinary leakage from activities such as laughing, coughing, sneezing and exercise, increased frequency of urination, and difficulty emptying the bladder.

  2. Bowel issues - This can include leakage of the bowel, the inability to control wind or flatus, constipation, or incomplete emptying

  3. Pelvic pain - is quite common amongst men and women and can present as pain in the lower abdomen or in the pelvic floor muscles themselves, such as pain during intercourse or be cyclical related to the menstrual cycle

  4. Prolapse - which refers to the downward displacement of the pelvic organs leading to a feeling of pressure, heaviness or bulging in the vagina and/or rectum.

If these symptoms occur, it is a strong indication that pelvic floor muscles are not functioning optimally and would benefit from pelvic floor physiotherapy.

Pelvic floor physiotherapists are trained as general physiotherapists and have undergone further study in order to specialise in this niche. These professionals use their knowledge to provide you with a comprehensive assessment that involves an extensive review of your medical history, a physical assessment, diagnosis and a treatment plan targeted to your goals. It is a conservative treatment approach that aims to restore optimal function of the pelvic floor muscles through exercise, technique and education.

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is highly recommended in individuals with the following conditions:

  1. Pregnancy - during pregnancy is best to optomise postpartum recovery

  2. Postpartum - having an after childbirth check of your pelvic floor muscles assists with returning to exercise safely and helps prevents future issues

  3. Perimenopausal or menopausal - when menopause occurs, there is a decrease in oestrogen in the whole body, which may contribute to the conditions and symptoms as listed above.

  4. Prostate Cancer - commonly after a prostatectomy, urinary leakage can occur - it is recommended to seek advice prior to your surgery to optimise your recovery.

  5. Chronic constipation or diarhoea - if you’ve ever had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)-like symptoms, a pelvic floor physiotherapy assessment can help you manage this.

  6. Pelvic Pain - pelvic floor muscles often have a role in causing pain in the abdomen or in the perineal area. An individualised assessment is highly recommended from a pelvic floor physiotherapist to assist with management.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms discussed above, make an appointment for a thorough assessment with our pelvic floor physiotherapists at Sunbury Physiotherapy to provide you a clear understanding of your condition and map out an individualised plan for your recovery.

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