The Down Low on the Postpartum Problems Down Under
Let’s talk about an issue that can be a little bit embarrassing but happens with some women during or after pregnancy or some possible solutions for this problem.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can help when things “aren’t right” down under. Any of the following changes may happen to your body during pregnancy or in your postpartum stage. If you have any of these symptoms, then this article is for you.
Leaking urine, gas or stool with laughing, coughing, jumping etc. or when you feel a strong urge to go
Ongoing back, hip, pelvic, groin or abdominal pain
Pressure or bulging in your vagina, rectum, or abdomen
Abnormal sensations or pain in any part of the pelvis, tailbone or hips during sex, bowel movements, or daily activities
You’re not alone!
1 in 3 women have persistent urinary incontinence (1)
1 in 7 women have ongoing pelvic pain (2)
In 2010 there were 3.3 million women in the U.S. alone with pelvic organ prolapse (3)
What is pelvic floor physical therapy?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a specialty field in physical therapy that helps treat these issues through techniques that involve soft tissue release, biofeedback training, education, and exercise to name a few.
Who performs this pelvic floor therapy and what do they do?
A trained pelvic floor physical therapist can be very helpful for women postpartum. During a pelvic floor evaluation, the therapist will assess your pelvic floor muscles to see if they are painful or weak and how they are contributing to your symptoms. Pelvic floor physical therapists have been trained to be very gentle and have practiced what it feels like to have a pelvic floor evaluation. A therapist will then make a plan for your treatment that may involve strengthening, stretching, and/or massage to help you recover.
Why didn’t my doctor tell me about pelvic floor rehabilitation?
Your doctor might not know about it. It isn’t a widely known treatment (which is part of what has inspired me to write this post!) Pelvic floor physical therapy is widely used in other countries in Europe and Australia and they are far ahead of the United States in educating woman about these issues. In some countries pelvic floor physical therapy is even routine after giving birth.
How do I find a pelvic floor physical therapist?
Ask your doctor if you would like more information on the subject or contact a physical therapist directly for more information. Your doctor should have a list of referral sources in their office. Make sure to specify that you would like a therapist who specializes in women’s health or pelvic floor dysfunction.
Visit the American Physical Therapy Association website. Click on Find a PT and search for a women's health physical therapist near you.
(1)Mathias SD, K. M. (1996). Chronic pelvic pain: prevalence, health-related quality of life, and economic correlates. Obstet Gynecol. , 87(3):3217.
(2)Nitti, V. W. (2001). The Prevalence of Urinary Incontinence. . Reviews in Urology, 3(Suppl 1), S2–S6.
(3)Palm, S. (n.d.). Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Help and Hope . Retrieved from Hope Heals Association for pelvic organ prolapse: http://www.pelvicorganprolapsesupport.org/pelvic-organ-prolapse-help-and-hope/