Pelvic health physiotherapists are specially trained to treat women, men and children with pelvic health complaints. We can address a wide range of issues – the most common being urinary incontinence, but we also treat those with difficulty urinating, bowel incontinence, constipation, sexual dysfunction, pelvic pain (coccyx, vulvar, testicular pain, or pain during sexual activity, just to name a few) and for women, pelvic organ prolapse (when the bladder, uterus or rectum “fall” into the vaginal wall). Men and women with diastasis rectus abdominis (a decrease in support of the abdominal muscles) and sacro-iliac joint dysfunction or pain are also commonly treated by pelvic health physiotherapists.
A pelvic health physiotherapist will evaluate your breath, posture and overall movement, as any physiotherapist might do. In addition to that however, pelvic health physiotherapists typically assess the muscles and tissues of the pelvis by way of an internal examination of the vagina and/or rectum.
All physiotherapists go through the same basic education at a university. In Canada, physiotherapists now graduate with a Masters in Physical Therapy. The training that individuals choose to undertake after graduation is what differentiates therapists. A pelvic health physiotherapist has taken special courses on how to assess and treat dysfunctions related to the pelvis (e.g. bladder, bowel, pain), including how to do internal (vaginal and rectal) examinations.
The pelvis is the bony ring at the base of the spine where your legs and your spine attach. This is an important part of the skeleton because this ring of bones allows the transfer of loads from the legs to the spine. The pelvic floor muscles (PFMs) are also known as the Kegel muscles. This group of muscles sits at the bottom of the pelvis to support our pelvic organs and to keep us from soiling and wetting ourselves. In addition, the PFMs are involved in the stability of our ‘core’ and also with our breath. Some men think that the PFMs only relate to women, but we all have pelvises, which means we all have PFMs!