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Empower Your Pelvic Floor

By: Alyson Repko PT, DPT

Conquering Incontinence, Constipation, and Prolapse Through Therapy

The pelvic floor, a complex network of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues, plays a vital role in various bodily functions. However, pelvic floor disorders such as incontinence, constipation, and prolapse can significantly impact quality of life. These issues can arise due to various factors such as childbirth, aging, chronic constipation, heavy lifting, or pelvic surgery and can weaken or damage the pelvic floor muscles. Fortunately, pelvic floor therapy offers effective strategies for managing and improving these conditions. It is important to recognize the importance of pelvic floor therapy in addressing these common pelvic floor disorders and improving quality of life.

Pelvic floor disorders, including incontinence, constipation, and prolapse, are often characterized by symptoms such as urinary leakage, difficulty passing stool, and pelvic pressure and heaviness. These issues can arise due to factors such as muscle weakness, coordination problems, or pelvic floor dysfunction. While these issues are common, they do not have to be normal and pelvic floor therapy is an effective strategy to address issues.

Managing Incontinence:

Incontinence, marked by the involuntary loss of urine, can profoundly affect individuals’ daily lives. Pelvic floor therapy targets the underlying causes of incontinence, such as weak or tight pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor therapy works to strengthen and mobilize these muscles, improve bladder control, and enhance sphincter function. Patient education is key in addressing incontinence with tips to improve bladder health including: avoiding urinating just in case, avoiding squatting over the toilet, drinking adequate water, and avoiding straining with urinating. Additionally, behavioral modifications and bladder training techniques taught in therapy help individuals manage urgency and frequency, empowering them to regain control over their bladder function.

Addressing Constipation:

Constipation, characterized by difficulty passing stool or infrequent bowel movements, can cause discomfort and distress. Pelvic floor therapy focuses on relaxing and coordinating pelvic floor muscles to facilitate easier bowel movements. This can be done through manual therapy, stretches, and breathing exercises. There are many techniques that assist with improved and less painful bowel movements including: using a stool or squatty potty under your feet for optimal positioning, deep breathing, and avoiding straining or bearing down during a bowel movement.  Therapists educate patients on proper toileting posture, breathing techniques, and dietary modifications to alleviate constipation symptoms effectively.

Managing Prolapse:

Prolapse occurs when pelvic organs descend into the vaginal canal due to weakened pelvic floor support. Pelvic floor therapy plays a crucial role in managing prolapse by strengthening pelvic floor muscles and providing support to affected organs. It is important to avoid constipation, often leading to straining and stress on pelvic floor muscles, which can worsen symptoms of a prolapse. Therapists teach techniques to enhance pelvic floor muscle tone, optimize intra-abdominal pressure, and promote proper alignment and posture. In cases where surgery is indicated, pelvic floor therapy serves as a preoperative treatment to optimize surgical outcomes and support long-term pelvic floor health.

Pelvic floor therapy offers a holistic approach to managing pelvic floor disorders, addressing muscle weakness, coordination issues, and dysfunction comprehensively. As a non-invasive and effective intervention, pelvic floor therapy should be considered a first-line therapy in the management of these conditions. Early intervention and comprehensive care are vital in achieving optimal outcomes and improving overall quality of life. By addressing underlying muscle weakness, coordination problems, and dysfunction, pelvic floor therapists empower individuals to regain control and improve their quality of life.

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