Many patients are surprised to learn that specialized physical therapy can help pelvic pain, incontinence and sexual dysfunction. While these issues often arise from injuries or weakened vaginal, urinary and rectal muscles, many people mistakenly believe that they are a natural part of aging.
In fact, by joining exercise, core stability work, movement training and education, pelvic floor therapy can help patients enjoy a healthy, active life, regardless of age.
Pelvic Floor Therapy is for More Than Just Women
Even more surprising is that pelvic floor therapy isn’t just for women. Although women at different ages and stages of reproduction seek help it doesn’t depict the whole story of the continuum of care available in this important therapy. In fact, pelvic floor therapy can be useful for a wide variety of patients.
For example, a pre-teen girl may seek help because she wants to enjoy sleepover parties but is still wearing undergarments overnight for bedwetting. We may use biofeedback to connect her to an interactive game screen that shows her how to understand and develop control of her pelvic muscles. We may work with her parents to focus on household habits including healthy meals, water intake and adequate fiber. With these elements working alongside therapy, we can see improved quality of life after four or five weekly sessions.
We also see men who are experiencing pelvic pain, weakness or tight muscles due to an injury, surgery or even treatment for prostate cancer. Men of any age who are experiencing constipation -which tends to lead to bladder issues – can also benefit from therapy.
In caring for transgender patients, we give priority consideration to the mind-body connection. A transgender person may have experienced emotional trauma or physical abuse that prevents the body from working optimally. Prior to gender reassignment surgery, patients may have bladder and bowel problems as a result of manually altering their physical appearance. For example, moving genitals to fit clothing can put pressure on the pelvic floor and cause nerve irritation. A transgender woman might seek therapy after surgery to maintain the new vaginal opening and start healthy habits for the new pelvic floor.
And, of course, we see many women in pregnancy and post-delivery who are experiencing incontinence and painful intercourse. Appropriate pelvic floor therapy can also alleviate those problems.
What Does Pelvic Floor Therapy Entail?
For every patient, therapy starts with an open discussion about exactly what we will do. We will answer their questions and reassure them that their situation is not isolated. We work with patients to establish their goals and create the right care plan.
To maintain a healthy pelvic floor, all ages and genders benefit from good nutrition and water intake. It’s equally important to let your brain be in charge of when to use the restroom. Going too much or too little disrupts the natural process and causes the pelvic floor muscles to weaken.
There’s nothing more rewarding than helping a patient be empowered to address their issues and move into a healthier life instead of settling for discomfort, pain or loss of control.
To make an appointment or learn more about how pelvic floor therapy can help you, call 1-877-969-7342.
Wendy Schlessinger, PT, WCS, CLT-LANA, is a Board Certified Women’s Health Clinical Specialist and an Advanced Clinician at Penn Therapy & Fitness Lansdale.