WHAT IS WOMENS HEALTH PHYSIOTHERAPY?
The Women’s Health (or Pelvic health) physiotherapist treats patients with pain or dysfunction around the pelvis. This covers a variety of symptoms including pelvic pain in pregnancy, incontinence, prolapse, pain with sex…to name just a few. Men aren’t exempt either as they can have pelvic floor dysfunction as well – keep reading to the end! As we realise that these subjects can be very personal, we’ll discuss these sensitively and of course, confidentially. Read on for more information on how seeing a Women’s Health physio can be useful.
PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION.
It’s estimated that one in three women in the UK suffer with urinary incontinence of varying severity. It’s a problem that can significantly affect our quality of life – affecting our daily choices of where we go (whether there’s a toilet nearby), what clothes we wear, our relationships, the type of exercise that we do, and our self-esteem. The quantity of advertising for incontinence products alone show that this is not a rare problem. As it is a relatively taboo subject, people often believe that it’s a problem that they will just have to live with, or possibly undergo surgery for. However, for the majority of people with these symptoms, physiotherapy is recommended as a first line of treatment. Similarly, women with symptoms of prolapse (such as an ache or feeling of heaviness in the perineum) can benefit significantly from seeing a women’s health physiotherapist. A women’s health physiotherapist will discuss the nature of your symptoms, and your lifestyle, and will be able to assess your pelvic floor so as to give advice and exercises aimed at reducing your symptoms.
The pelvic floor muscle can be weak, but (as with other muscles) on some individuals the pelvic floor is overly tight. This tightness can result in different issues such as painful sex, persistent pelvic pain or difficulty going to the toilet. Again, physiotherapy can be helpful in treating these symptoms, sometimes as part of a multi-disciplinary approach.
PREGNANCY RELATED PAIN
The 12 months that cover a pregnancy and the postpartum period are a time when your body undergoes many changes – hormonal, postural, physical and emotional. Also, chances are, your lifestyle will change significantly too, with changes in daily routine, exercising and sleeping position. As a result of these changes, mothers can experience pain around the lower back, pelvis or hips. If left untreated, these problems can sometimes last beyond the end of a pregnancy or be exacerbated by the birth and the demands of looking after a new baby. Don’t suffer in silence! A women’s health physio can assess and treat pelvic and back pain safely in pregnancy, give postural and birthing advice, and help you recover post-delivery. Whether you’re in pain, want advice about exercise, or have a post-baby tummy that you need help with – we can help.
Although traditionally known as a “women’s health physiotherapist”, men can come under the remit of a Pelvic Health physiotherapist too. Men can also suffer from pelvic floor related pain (sometimes with similar symptoms to chronic prostatitis) or incontinence, and it can be beneficial for prostatectomy patients to see a physiotherapist for exercises prior to or after the operation.
WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR FIRST APPOINTMENT.
If you feel that it would be beneficial to come and see a Women’s Health physio, here’s what you can expect from us:
Quite a few questions. To give you the best treatment possible, we need to understand your symptoms and concerns. These will always be asked in a sensitive manner.
A clear diagnosis and prognosis, and any possible treatment options. It’s important to us that you feel in control of your assessment and treatment, so we’ll explain everything as we go along so that you know what your choices are and the likely treatment outcomes.
A physiotherapist that will listen to your concerns and queries. We will do our utmost to put you at ease as we understand that discussing these sensitive topics can be difficult. However, we also know that they are conversations worth having as the the outcomes of treatment can be life-changing.
"Abi made me feel very relaxed and was very receptive to everything I said. Without using long words or technical terms she convinced me that she really knew what she was doing. She has great empathy and is perfect for this profession."
“During my pregnancy and for two years afterwards I suffered with bad pelvic girdle pain, which meant that I was unable to do any form of exercise. At this point I started regular physio sessions with Abi. With these, my pain improved and Abi equipped me with a set of exercises to make me stronger and help relieve any niggles. I am now able to take part in a regular weekly exercise class.” Anne-Marie L