You might not know it’s there, but the pelvic floor muscles are hugely important for men and women, allowing them to do everything from enjoying a satisfying sex life to preventing incontinence and even more serious conditions. Abnormal stresses or tension in your pelvic region or ageing can cause your pelvic floor muscles to become, weak, too tight (never a good thing) or sore, resulting in this muscle not being able to perform the task at hand. 

PELVIC HEALTH IN WOMEN

Women’s bodies go through a lot, especially during childbirth. We don’t like to talk about medical conditions down there, but many women, perhaps most women, will experience pelvic pain and urinary incontinence or problems during or after pregnancy. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s all completely treatable with the right kind of care.

Pelvic pain could be internal or external of the pelvic region and can be a very disabling condition. Painkillers can be effective in treating the symptoms, however, it is important to find the cause of the pelvic pain to establish a more effective treatment with better results. Pelvic pain can cause a lot of discomfort with daily activities such as sitting, walking the dog, picking up and holding your baby, carrying the laundry basket up the stairs, turning in bed, getting up in the morning.

Conditions related to Pelvic & Vaginal Pain: Pelvic girdle pain, vestibulodynia, vulvodynia, coccydynia

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There are a number of conditions that can cause women to experience pain during vaginal intercourse (which we’ll just call ‘sex’ from here on), also known as ‘Dyspareunia’. Again, there can be a dozen different causes, but the result is always the same: something that you should enjoy becomes painful.

If you experience pain during sex, then the range of causes on trusted sites like WebMD can be worrying: infections, spasms, ectopic pregnancy, cysts and a whole range of potential injuries. It’s rare that pain during sex can’t be treated, and experienced physiotherapists like Lisa would be able to distinguish whether the pelvic floor muscles are involved or not. She should also be able to setup referrals to other healthcare providers if needed.

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Your pelvic area has to undergo profound changes to accommodate and give birth to a baby. Sometimes these changes can be something you think is minor, like the urinary incontinence that can happen when your baby is pressing against your bladder. At other times, the bodily stress of childbirth can lead to all kinds of conditions that can cause difficulties.
Lisa is well-versed in pregnancy-related pelvic health to get you back to your normal.

Conditions related to pregnancy: pelvic girdle pain, diastasis rectus abdominus (DRA), coccydynia, pubic symphysis pain

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Losing control of your bladder is the stuff nightmares are made of, and it’s more common than most people realize- and definitely more common than most people will admit. Anywhere up to 50% of women will suffer from urinary incontinence during their lifetime, usually after pregnancy, when anything from a sneeze to stress can bring on an embarrassing episode- if there’s even a trigger at all.

Incontinence isn’t limited to pregnant women or those who have just given birth. Many women can experience a loss of bladder control when sneezing, laughing or for no reason at all. Others can experience constipation that can leave you feeling bloated and unwell. The pelvic floor muscles can often play an important part in regulating urination and bowel movements- exactly why kegel exercises are performed by tensing the muscle that stops the flow of urine. However, if you are planning to start doing kegels, guidance from a professional is needed, for more effective results and a plan of action that you can follow to get back to full functioning and stay there.

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POP (Pelvic Organ Prolapse) might be a cheerful-sounding acronym, but this condition is anything but cheerful for the 11% of women who experience it in their lifetimes. Vaginal prolapse is caused when the stabilizing tissues that keep the internal organs in place are not working well anymore. The result is that these organs shift, causing profound discomfort. The risk of developing a prolapse can be seriously reduced by paying attention to the muscles of your pelvic floor.

Exercises, physical therapy and lifestyle changes can make the tissues healthy again to eliminate discomfort and prevent progression of the prolapse. It’ll take more than a few Kegels though- you’ll need guidance from an experienced physiotherapist like Lisa.

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Aside from women who have recently given birth, athletes and people who engage in heavy exercise are the group most at risk from conditions affecting the pelvic floor. The more rigorous the activity, the greater the impact: power-lifters, Crossfit practitioners, and athletes in basketball, soccer or other sports in which you have to be in constant motion are most prone to pelvic floor issues. The pelvic floor has an important role to play in high impact activities and should not be neglected.

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PELVIC HEALTH IN MEN

Men’s pelvic health has fallen behind in research as most of the current emphasis is placed on pelvic health related issues in women. Men’s pelvic health is however an equally important topic as they too can develop significant pelvic floor dysfunction that can serve as a source of pain. Most men tend to neglect pelvic pain with a attitude to simply grit their teeth and bear it, but this certainly does not need to be the case. Pelvic health is an equally important issue and we are striving to break the stigma surrounding seeking help. 

In general, most pelvic pain seems to get blamed on the prostate. Interestingly, a study done by Potts et al. (2014) found that only 5-7% of the men that were diagnosed with prostatitis actually had positive bacterial cultures. The men who had negative cultures (i.e. non-infective), were equally symptomatic, leading to the conclusion that there was more than simply infectious causes that led to pelvic pain in men. This built on a previous finding in a study from 2009 which found that 10-15% of all men suffer from a condition called chronic non-bacterial prostatitis. 

Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty urinating
  • Incontinence
  • Inability to urinate / urinary retention
  • Frequent urination at night
  • A feeling of urgency to urinate
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Slow stream of urine
  • Feeling of poor emptying
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Fullness or feeling like your “sitting on a golf ball”
  • Pain at the tip of the penis, tailbone or in the rectum 

So what about when its not related to the prostate at all? Tension in the pelvic floor is another cause of pain. The standard treatment for most pelvic issues in men is a course of antibiotics to treat the prostate, but addressing the pelvic floor, and possible tension, should be considered especially if antibiotics are ineffective and symptoms do not resolve. Pelvic Health Physiotherapy could also be effective in treating some of the common side-effects after a Prostatectomy such as incontinence, pelvic pain and erectile dysfunction.

PELVIC HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH

PELVIC HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH

FOR WOMEN

There are many ways in which your mind can be affected by what’s happening in your pelvis, and many ways in which your mind can cause or mimic physical problems. Women who leak urine in the first six weeks of pregnancy are twice as likely to develop post-natal depression as women who don’t, as the embarrassment and discomfort of leaks makes an already stressful time worse. On the other hand, psychological problems can cause symptoms that feel a lot like physical damage to the pelvis- suddenly tensing up during sex, for example, can lead to internal discomfort that feels a lot like pain during sex caused by other factors. Helping to untangle what is caused by the mind and what is caused by the body, bringing both into balance, is the basis of Lisa’s work.

PELVIC HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH

FOR MEN

Men’s mental health problems can have major effects on their sexual health, and the health of their pelvis. Erectile dysfunction is a good example of this: it can often be caused by physical problems, and equally often by psychological problems. Lisa’s practice doesn’t end with physical exercises, but includes a thorough evaluation to determine how psychological and social factors play a role in your pelvic health.

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PILATES

Kegels aren’t the only excercise that are good for your pelvic health. Since the early 20th century, Pilates (named after its creator, Joseph Pilates) has been a hugely popular form of exercise. It’s based on the principle of muscle control- hence why its original name was ‘Contrology’, and also incorporates control of breath and movement. Pilates is a great way to progressively strengthen the pelvic floor, in conjunction with other core muscles. It’s the perfect compliment for strengthening the pelvic floor on an ongoing basis or just getting and staying in shape. A private session is recommended if you are new to the Pilates method and would like to try it out.

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If you’d like to start getting back to being confident and comfortable then give Linq Physio a call.

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If you would like some help to feel confident and comfortable then just fill in the form below and we’ll get in touch with you soon! If you’re ready to book an appointment, you can fill out an assessment and bring this in with you on your initial appointment so we can get the best out of our time.

ADDRESS

Bonnyville Medical Clinic
#101 4610 50th Street
Bonnyville, AB
T9N 0G2

PHONE NUMBER

780-826-3346 Ext. 209

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