Women’s Health Physiotherapy covers all areas of pelvic floor rehabilitation relating to obstetrics (pregnancy) and gynaecology. As many as one 1 in 3 women will experience pelvic health problems in their lifetime, particularly during the life transitions of motherhood and the menopause. Due to the sensitive nature of these issues, many women simply tolerate their symptoms, often for years, either too embarrassed to seek help or unaware that there are treatments available. The NICE health guidelines recommend specialist physiotherapy as first line treatment in the conservative management of urinary incontinence.
Pelvic floor muscles play a key role in core stability, breathing and posture and in the support of pelvic organs and facilitation of sexual function. Most women are familiar with pelvic floor exercises (sometimes called Kegel exercise) but many women are unsure whether they are doing them correctly.
A women’s health physiotherapy assessment involves taking a full history of symptoms and completing a comprehensive physical examination. This includes an internal examination to fully assess the strength, tone, endurance, flexibility and co-ordination of pelvic floor muscles. These muscles may be weak, which can result in symptoms of urinary/ bowel incontinence or prolapse. Sometimes these muscles have too much tension, which can cause pelvic pain, bladder urgency and frequency, difficulty emptying bowels or sexual pain and dysfunction.
Treatment plans are tailored to each woman’s individual needs and expectations. Manual therapy, a home exercise programme designed to optimise pelvic floor recovery and advice on lifestyle modifications are some of the treatment options available. Ultimately, the focus of treatment is to support women in managing their symptoms and promote restoration of health, function and balance in the pelvic area.
- Stress urinary incontinence (leaking with coughing, sneezing, exercise)
- Urge urinary incontinence (not reaching the toilet in time)
- Bladder irritability (increased urgency and/or increased frequency)
- Bowel incontinence
- Constipation/dysfunctional defaecation
- Vaginal prolapse
- Post-natal pelvic floor and abdominal rehabilitation
- Sexual pain/dysfunction
- Persistent pelvic, perineal or vulval pain
- Coccyx pain