Your Pelvic Floor: How to Know When It’s Time to Seek Treatment
Updated: Jul 16, 2019
What is my pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and tissues running from your pubic bone to your tail bone that supports your pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, and bowel). Everyone has a pelvic floor, even men.
Why is it important?
Maintaining an appropriate level of tension in the pelvic floor allows you to have the strength necessary to hold up the pelvic organs while also allowing the relaxation necessary for urination and bowl movements. Your pelvic floor also plays a key role in sexual health.
Common pelvic floor disorder symptoms:
Peeing when you laugh, sneeze, run, or jump
Pain with sex
Feeling a heaviness in the vagina (many describe this feeling like you have a tampon inserted but don’t)
Constantly need to pee or feel like you have a “small” bladder
Need to get to a toilet in a hurry or not make it there in time (frequent sudden urge to pee)
When to seek treatment:
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, no matter if you have ever been pregnant or not, it is highly recommended that you seek out a pelvic floor physical therapist (PFPT). They can be your first line of treatment, often times improving symptoms without the need for medications or surgery.
I like to take it a step further and recommend that all of my pregnant clients see a PFPT for an evaluation, whether symptomatic or not. The PFPT can evaluate your movement patterns and help you maintain appropriate pelvic floor activation as your pregnancy progresses. They can also help with sacroiliac (SI) joint pain, symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD), diastasis recti abdominis (DRA), and other pain issues that may arise during pregnancy.
Postpartum is another time that I recommend all women visit a PFPT no matter if they are symptomatic or not. A typical 6 week postpartum visit with your OBGYN or midwife is simply checking to see if your cervix is closed and any stitches are healed. This is not an examination of your pelvic floor. Even if your birth experience wasn’t traumatic, there is still a level of trauma that occurs to the body, especially the pelvic floor. Six weeks postpartum isn’t a magical healing time for these muscles.
A postpartum visit with a PFPT will allow you to have a full assessment for pelvic floor and core function as well as treatment for any issues that may be present. By having this awareness, you will be able to help yourself recover faster and increase your long term athletic performance, high level athlete and weekend warrior alike.
How to find a qualified professional:
Herman and Wallace and APTA Women’s Health are the top choices for finding a physical therapist specializing in pelvic health. We also highly recommend working with a coach that has specific training in this area to help you integrate what you learn into your fitness routine.
No one in your area? Contact us for additional resources.
Pelvic floor disorder symptoms don’t have to be your new normal in life. If you feel that something isn’t right, trust your body and seek help. While many women may be embarrassed to talk about their symptoms, please know that the physical therapists and coaches that work in this space are here for you. We are professionals in our fields and want to help you to meet your goals and return to doing what you love without fear and embarrassment.