Pelvic floor physical therapy helps to recognize the muscles around the pelvis and to use them in the right way. In addition to (exercise) therapy, the pelvic floor physical therapist also gives advice on nutrition and fluid intake, correct toilet posture and hygiene.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a method in which a person learns to feel the muscles of the pelvic floor and use them consciously. Because people cannot see these muscles by themselves, it is sometimes difficult to use them properly and to train them. Attention and guidance by a physical therapist is therefore often useful. By means of exercises, one can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. In this way, they can better absorb the pressure that arises from movements on the pelvic floor. The closing mechanism of the bladder can also be strengthened, so that urine is less easily lost unintentionally.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help with the following symptoms:
- Incontinence, or involuntary loss of urine or stool.
- Difficulty when urinating.
- Prolapse of the bladder, uterus or rectum.
- Constipation or diarrhea.
- Pelvic floor problems before or after giving birth or after an operation.
- Prostate problems.
- Pelvic or low back symptoms during and/or after pregnancy.
- Pelvic pain.
- Pelvic instability.
- Pelvic symptoms after a traumatic experience.
In addition, a pelvic floor physical therapist provides guidance in case of surgery in the lower abdomen.
The physical therapist first asks what exactly the symptoms are, in order to draw up a good treatment plan in consultation with the patient. The treatment often starts with some tests to see if the tension of the pelvic floor muscles is normal and how quickly these muscles can be tightened and relaxed.
The tests are done with exercises such as: ‘try to close and pull in the vagina’ or ‘try to stop a wind’. After learning to use the muscles in a right way, it’s important that these movements become part of the daily routine. This can be done, for example, by practicing postures and movements in which the pelvic floor muscles are more or less automatically tightened.
The treatment of the pelvic floor physical therapist might be supported with electrostimulation, balloon training and myofeedback. These tools help to record the muscle tension of the pelvic floor. The woman also learns how to relax the muscles properly, for example during toilet visits or sexual intercourse. In addition, the physical therapist advises on how to prevent unnecessary pressure on the pelvic floor.
In many cases, pelvic floor physical therapy helps a lot and can reduce or even remedy incontinence problems. Moreover, less incontinence material is required, and any operation may even be postponed or prevented.
Advice for pelvic floor problems:
- Make sure to breathe well when stooping, bending and lifting. Don’t hold your breath, don’t lock your breath but keep breathing during these movements.
- Try to avoid a lot of coughing (no smoking).
- Try to learn a proper sitting posture and relaxed movements: not from the upper body, but from the pelvis. A wrong way of moving gives unnecessary stress on the back and the pelvic floor.
- Take your time on the toilet. Many pelvic floor problems can be prevented by urinating and defecating less hurriedly. It’s important to do this leisurely and to relax as much as possible.