Pelvic Floor Therapy: Regaining Control of Your Pelvis
What is the Pelvic Floor? The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that attach to the front, back, and sides of the pelvic bone and sacrum. Like a sling or hammock, these muscles support organs of the pelvis, including the bladder, vagina, uterus, and rectum. Coordinated contraction and relaxation of muscles of the pelvic floor allow for urination, bowel movements, and sexual intercourse. Weakness in pelvic floor muscles is a cause of urinary or fecal incontinence, while abnormal tension or spasm of pelvic floor muscles can cause pelvic pain, bladder pain, overactive bladder, or bowel urgency.
What Is Pelvic Floor Therapy? Pelvic floor therapy is a specialized type of therapy that helps a woman learn how to contract and relax her pelvic floor muscles. Those who have weak muscles resulting in urine or stool leakage can learn to strengthen the pelvic floor. Those who have tense pelvic muscles and pain can learn to relax the pelvic floor. Patients have regular sessions with a technician specially trained in pelvic floor therapy.
Pelvic floor therapy works by training the brain and pelvic muscles to work together to tighten and relax the pelvic floor muscles appropriately. Your pelvic therapy technician will measure contraction and relaxation of the muscles while you receive visual cues on a computer monitor so that you can learn to better use these muscles. “Kegel” exercises are often done without success, because of contracting the wrong muscles or contracting them incorrectly. With monitoring, we will see how your actions produce results, so you can become well trained on proper technique.
Another important component of therapy is mild painless electrical stimulation, which aids in muscle re-education and strengthening. Depending on the settings, stimulation may be used to rehabilitate weak pelvic floor muscles or to reduce spasm in over-tense pelvic floor muscles.
Who Can Benefit from Pelvic Floor Therapy? Pelvic Floor Therapy can improve or eliminate a variety of conditions, including but not limited to:
- Urinary Incontinence Pain with Intercourse
- Overactive Bladder Genital or Vaginal Pain
- Frequent Urination Bladder Pain
- Interstitial Cystitis Fecal incontinence
- Chronic Pelvic Pain Chronic Constipation
- Pain with Intercourse
- Genital or Vaginal Pain
- Bladder Pain
- Fecal Incontinence
- Chronic Constipation
Patients Find Pelvic Floor Therapy Favorable Because:
- Treatment is non-invasive and painless.
- It has a high success rate.
- It is safe, and has no significant side effects.
Don’t Let Embarrassment Stop You From Receiving Help! Women often feel embarrassed and suffer in silence with these problems. Please do not allow fear to prevent you from getting the help you need. Join those who have regained confidence and freedom through this effective treatment!
What to Expect with Pelvic Floor Therapy (PFT)
You will meet with a pelvic therapy technician, a female staff member specially trained to perform these procedures and, with sensitivity, guide her patients through the process. Here is what to expect during a PFT session:
Pelvic Floor Evaluation and Training. Sophisticated instrumentation is used to determine that the correct muscles are being contracted, and to show when a muscle is becoming fatigued. Using this information, an exercise plan is developed with specific muscle strengthening instruction, much like a personal trainer in a gym.
Pelvic Floor Stimulation. A vaginal sensor, the size of a tampon, is used to deliver a mild painless electrical stimulation to the pelvic floor muscles, which will cause them to contract. Patients describe the stimulation as a tingling feeling, not painful. This process helps to strengthen the muscles and teaches the brain and pelvic muscles to work together properly. The strength of the muscle contractions will be measured, and this aids in directing therapy and exercise recommendations.
Education and Updates on Progress. Between visits you will keep a log of symptoms. During follow up visits, your pelvic therapy technician will observe your progress by discussing your experiences during the past week, and watching the computer monitor as you contract your pelvic floor muscles. She will also provide education and help determine other factors that may be causing your symptoms, such as dietary and other habits that may contribute to pelvic floor conditions.
Visit Frequency and Duration. Visits last about 45 minutes. A positive change in symptoms should be noticed by the third or fourth weekly visit, and some improvement will likely be noticed by this point. Depending on the condition being treated, patients will typically need 12 or more sessions to experience complete or near complete resolution of symptoms. Longstanding pelvic pain conditions typically require a longer course of treatment.
Home Exercises and Follow Up Visits
Often patients will be asked to perform exercises daily at home, and it’s important to faithfully follow these instructions. The goal is to see progress at each visit.