Pelvic therapy is an often-misunderstood field. Understandably, many people feel uncomfortable or embarrassed when talking about concerns relating to bladder, bowel, and sexual function. While it may seem invasive to some, pelvic therapists have heard it all – nothing surprises us! Here at Grace Physical Therapy, we strive to foster an environment of trust and compassion. To make your first visit less daunting, we wanted to take the time to address some common misconceptions about our field of expertise!
Misconception #1: Pelvic therapy is only for pregnancy or for those who have given birth
While pregnancy and postpartum concerns are commonly addressed in pelvic therapy, it is often thought that these are the only reasons people seek pelvic therapy. Many people seek care for concerns such as urinary incontinence or urgency/frequency, pelvic and tailbone pain, constipation, pelvic surgeries, and painful intercourse. Individuals of all ages and gender identities can benefit from pelvic therapy to address these concerns.
Misconception #2: Pelvic therapy is only beneficial for mild pelvic dysfunction
Not true! In fact, research has shown that pelvic therapy can often reduce or eliminate the need for surgery, medication, and other more invasive treatments. In cases when surgery or more invasive interventions are necessary, pelvic therapy continues to be an important component of surgical preparation and recovery. Your pelvic therapist can teach you numerous strategies to reduce issues, assist in pain management, and maximize recovery, empowering you to take charge of the healing process.
Misconception #3: Pelvic physical therapists do not do vaginal or rectal exams
Physical and occupational therapists are experts in evaluation and treatment of the body’s musculoskeletal and neuromuscular systems. Therapists who specialize in the pelvic floor must undergo additional specialty training to be able to perform internal vaginal or rectal exams to fully assess and treat the pelvic floor. Although an internal examination is never mandatory, it provides the most accurate information about the nerves, muscles, bones and connective tissues of the pelvis as they relate to your concerns.
Misconception #4: Pelvic floor exercises are not really a form of therapy
When people think of “pelvic floor exercises”, the first thing that comes to mind is the infamous Kegel. When appropriate and done correctly, Kegels can be a wonderful exercise! However, it is essential that you be evaluated by a pelvic floor therapist to determine if this exercise is appropriate for you and to ensure that you do them correctly. Studies show that almost 50% of people do not do them correctly; when done improperly, the kegel can do more harm than good!
We’ll let you in on a trade secret: Kegels are just one of many “pelvic floor exercises” that you may be instructed in during your therapy sessions. Stretching, breathing, and core strengthening also play a significant role in pelvic therapy At our North Carolina pelvic health practice, our pelvic therapists can not only teach you how to correctly perform the exercises you need, but also supervise and address any issues that might arise during treatment to ensure you get the best possible results.
You might be surprised to hear that pelvic floor exercises can help with a number of issues, including urinary and fecal incontinence. The exercises work especially well in patients who have these issues due to a weak pelvic floor.
Misconception #5: Pelvic floor dysfunction is a normal part of aging so I should “just accept it”
Definitively not! Although some issues, such as urinary urgency and incontinence, do become more prevalent as people age, you don’t “have to live with it.” Training your pelvic floor muscles to relax and contract appropriately (and making a few lifestyle changes) can go a long way toward resolving many of these concerns. Our pelvic therapists have the necessary knowledge and expertise to teach you the skills you need to maximize your quality of life and achieve your goals.