Physiotherapist Jason Smith sheds some light on the delicate subject of pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD).
Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) affects 4.8 million Australians, 80 per cent of whom are women. Whilst women are at higher risk of PFD, because of the strains of pregnancy and childbirth and the hormonal changes of menopause, men are susceptible too. PFD can be caused by childbirth, enlarged prostate, oestrogen deficiency, impact trauma, spinal or pelvic misalignment, infection or inflammation, obesity, chronic coughing, chronic constipation, high impact sporting activities and certain medications.
One in three women who have had a baby will experience a problem with incontinence. It’s common, but not normal, and can be treated. There are various types and degrees of incontinence, caused by different deficiencies in your pelvic floor control and function. Understanding and identifying them is critical.
The combination of an internal pelvic examination and real time ultrasound scan, by a specially trained physiotherapist, is essential to them designing for you the right treatment plan. Your long term recovery will generally include combinations of closely monitored pelvic floor exercises, core stability and dietary changes.
Actions for Optimal Health
- If you have experienced any form of incontinence or pelvic pain, have it assessed. It doesn’t make sense that people should put up with these types of symptoms indefinitely. It may be an embarrassing conversation at first, but remind yourself of the statistics before you walk into the appointment, and feel better that most likely the therapist you are consulting has experienced the same problems themselves.
- Whether you are young or old, male or female, it’s time to experiment with holding your urine flow midstream. As you start and stop (other than being careful to not miss your target), concentrate on the contraction you feel in the “crutch” of your pelvis. Register this sensation as what a contraction of your pelvic floor feels like. I strongly recommend making a habit of practising contractions like this (when you are not going to the toilet) throughout the day or during specific exercise routines, even if you don’t have PFD. It’s a great way to keep the pelvic musculature in shape, for all the other reasons they are important.
- I have been recommending to thousands of clients, for more than a decade, to practise Kegel exercises at traffic lights and during television commercial breaks. Get into a lifestyle rhythm of making good use of these occasions to perform a short set of hold/relax contractions of your pelvic floor. You’ll thank me for making such good use of otherwise tedious, frustrating and monotonous minutes. Remember, they all add up.
- If you are pregnant, or have recently had a child, why not attend a Mums In Motion class? These peri-natal exercise classes are conducted by qualified physiotherapists who have expertise in helping condition you for pregnancy, birth and the recovery afterwards. They concentrate on postural control, core stability, pelvic floor conditioning and give invaluable practical advice along the way. Navigating this exciting (but intense) period of your life with some peers in a fun, social environment also makes for a great format. If you want to bring your baby to the class, there is a similar option just for that called Mums N Bubs. Visit the link below for more information Getyourselfbackinmotion.com/mumsinmotion
Jason Smith is the founder of Back In Motion Health Group. He is the author to Get Yourself Back In Motion.
For more information visit www.getyourselfbackinmotion.com or call 1300 MY HEALTH for your nearest Back In Motion Health Group practice.