by Dr. Nicole E. Laird, PT, DPT
The short answer? ABSOLUTELY!
But why should we see a pelvic floor therapist every year?
Let’s start with, “What is the pelvic floor and pelvic floor therapy?”
The pelvic floor consists of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that work together to support your vagina, uterus (or prostate), bladder, rectum, and urethra. It contributes to proper function of your urinary and reproductive organs, sexual arousal and orgasms, and bladder and bowel control. Loss of stability and function of your pelvic floor can lead to pain, leaking, loss of control, and dysfunction.
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a specialty within physical therapy that focuses on the muscles and tissues of the pelvic floor. Physical therapists who are pelvic floor specialists must go through additional training and continuing education courses to be able to practice pelvic floor physical therapy.
As women, it has been ingrained into us that we need to schedule yearly gynecological exams. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), women should begin having pelvic exams/PAP smears at 21. But pelvic exams with your gynecologist generally DO NOT examine the muscle function or stability of your pelvic floor.
What are the benefits of a yearly pelvic floor PT exam?
Like any other preventative measure, a yearly pelvic floor PT exam is important to maintain health and wellness. Annual exams can help establish a baseline in the case that any issue should occur in the future. It can also address problems if detected early, making treatment easier and limiting issues before getting worse. Often times, it can help avoid painful surgeries or long-term medication.
Pelvic floor PT can help prevent and/or treat:
• Urinary incontinence
• Urinary frequency and urgency
• Fecal incontinence
• Organ prolapse
• Back pain
• Pelvic pain
• Abdominal pain
• Pain from endometriosis
• Diastasis recti
• Recovery from abdominal surgery such as hysterectomy or C-sections • Painful sex
A pelvic floor physical therapist can also help prepare you for labor and delivery, and navigate postpartum with you to return your core and pelvic floor to a healthy and functioning level. Just like your annual visit to your gynecologist, an annual visit to your pelvic floor physical therapist can be utilized as preventative care, to address questions and concerns, to help treat current and underlying dysfunction, to maintain health, and create a long term plan for wellness.
With the pelvic floor having such a crucial role in maintaining bladder and bowel function, sexual function, and reproductive function, it is so important to have it checked yearly and should become a standard recommendation for long term health.
So, when was the last time you had your pelvic floor function examined? Are you living your life with pain and discomfort but have been told, “That’s just the way it is now.”? Do you have to plan your day around how you can run to the restroom? Is pelvic pain and limited intimacy starting to affect your relationship and mental health? Or are you looking for early preventative measures to keep your pelvic floor healthy?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, or have other pelvic floor concerns, call us today at 512-268-9130.