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Pelvic Floor Dysfunction: What Should You Know? How Can Physiotherapy Help?

Pelvic floor dysfunction isn’t anything to be embarrassed or ashamed about. In fact, about one in three women experience this at some point in their life. It’s more common than you might think!

Your pelvic floor can become weak through pregnancy, due to excess weight, or from menopause. This can also occur due to traumatic injury or overuse, such as going to the bathroom too often. Yet, why is the pelvic floor so important? Should you be concerned about a weak pelvic floor? What should you know? In this article, we’re going to dive into the importance of the pelvic floor, signs of a weak pelvic floor, and how physiotherapy can help.

The Importance of the Pelvic Floor

Let’s start with the basics. What is the pelvic floor? 

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and connective tissues located between your pubic bone and tailbone. These structures support your bowels, bladder, and uterus, preventing prolapse and incontinence. 

The pelvic floor allows you to control when you urinate or perform a bowel movement, only emptying when it is convenient for you. It also keeps your reproductive organs in place, aiding in childbirth and sexual function.

As we age, collagen naturally declines in the body. This doesn’t just become a problem due to fine lines and wrinkles. A decline in collagen can also take away strength and rigidity of the pelvic floor, which can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction or a weakened pelvic floor. 

Pelvic floor dysfunction is basically when the pelvic floor isn’t doing the job it’s supposed to. So, let’s take a look at some of the most common signs and symptoms.

What Are the Signs of a Weak Pelvic Floor?

Maybe you’re wondering, “How do I know if I need pelvic floor therapy?” If you’ve got the following signs, you might want to consider it.

  • Urine leaks when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or run.
  • You’ve had “accidents” where you’ve failed to get to the toilet in time.
  • Tampons that fall out.
  • Feelings of heaviness in the vagina.
  • Recurring urinary tract infections or thrush.
  • Pain with sex.
  • Inability to orgasm.

If you have any of the above signs and symptoms, it’s important to get them checked out. Complications of a weak pelvic floor may lead to loss of bladder control, anal incontinence, reduced vaginal sensation, and prolapse of the bladder or uterus.

How Do I Activate My Pelvic Floor?

Potentially unsurprisingly, a lot of people don’t know how to activate their pelvic floor. Generally, you want the muscles in your bladder, vagina, and anus to tighten. A good way to test this is by placing two fingers in the vagina and practicing tightening around them. Another way to do this is by imagining you’re sitting on a marble and you want to pick up the marble. Tighten the muscles you would to do this. When you contract your pelvic floor, aim to hold this contraction for 3-5 seconds to start, gradually building up to a 5-10 second hold.

Alternatively, you can consult with a pelvic floor physiotherapist to understand more clearly what is going on, as well as how to properly perform pelvic floor exercises.

Pelvic Floor Therapy: How Long Does It Take to Strengthen My Pelvic Floor?

Usually, individuals notice improvements in their pelvic floor strength within four to six weeks. Yet, it may take a few months to see major improvements. Additionally, you’ll want to perform the exercises your physiotherapist prescribes regularly after improvements have been made to maintain the strength and integrity of the pelvic floor.

At Corydon Physiotherapy, we can help you get on track with your pelvic floor health. Whether you’ve recently had a baby or you’ve noticed symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, we are here to support you, guiding you toward better health and a better quality of life. Book your appointment with our experienced team today. 

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Melanie Klos, MScPT, Acupuncture
Melanie graduated from the University of Alberta with a Master’s in Physiotherapy in 2010. She also has her Bachelor of Kinesiology from the University of Manitoba in 2008. She has worked at Corydon Physio since 2011 and owns it as of April 1, 2019 with her husband. Her home is Winnipeg and she is very happy to be back here and pursuing her career at our clinic. Since graduation she has pursued many continuing education courses including being certified in Acupuncture and The McKenzie Method for treating back pain. Melanie’s interest in physiotherapy began during her first year of University when she tore knee ligaments while playing basketball for the University of Manitoba Bison Women’s team. After surgery and months of physiotherapy, she went on to play four years for the Bison’s, and was co-captain in her final year. Learning about human performance started at an early age, and pursuing physiotherapy as a career was a great fit. Melanie has an extensive athletic background which includes playing basketball with the Universities of Alberta and Manitoba. She had a very successful season with The University of Alberta Panda’s where they finished with a bronze medal. She loves coaching basketball and volleyball and continues to coach adults and children through school teams, club teams, or camps. Working with people to help motivate, educate and lead them is a personal strength. Melanie looks forward to a career helping people improve their quality of life and return them to the activities they love. Her special interests include treating sports injuries and problems of the neck and back. Further goals include, building her athletic patient caseload, further education in the McKenzie method and treating injuries to the muscle and skeletal systems. Melanie will be on maternity leave as of April 1, 2019 having her second child. In her spare time Melanie also likes to play recreational basketball and volleyball.
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