What is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Pelvic floor physical therapy is a conservative treatment provided by trained physical therapists to help strengthen or retrain weak pelvic floor muscles at the base of the pelvis. These muscles support the organs in the abdominal cavity and play an important role in optimizing bladder, bowel, and sexual function.
Benefits of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy
The main benefits of pelvic floor physical therapy include:
- Improves Sphincter Control: The pelvic floor muscles wrap around the anus and the urethra. Dysfunction of these muscles can result in leakage of urine or feces. Pelvic floor physical therapy can help to prevent this problem, enabling individuals to control urination and bowel movements.
- Prevents Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The pelvic floor muscles support the rectum, bladder, prostate, and other organs in the pelvic region. Weakness in the muscles due to childbirth, obesity, age, injury, or strain, can result in the descension of the bladder and rectum, leading to pain, pressure, and other symptoms. Pelvic floor therapy strengthens these muscles to prevent organ prolapse.
- Helps Pump Blood and Lymphatic Fluid back to the Heart: Deconditioned pelvic floor muscles can lead to pelvic congestion and swelling due to fluid accumulation in the area. Pelvic floor physical therapy sessions can help improve blood and lymph circulation in the area and blood flow to the heart.
- Enhances Sexual Function: Pelvic floor muscle strengthening can help with achieving and maintaining erections, enhanced penetration during sexual intercourse, and improved orgasms. They also help prevent or reduce pain in the pelvic region during or after intercourse.
- Improves Core Stability: The pelvic floor muscles and the muscles of the abdomen, lower back, and hip provide stability to the trunk when moving the extremities to prevent excessive load on the spine.
What Conditions Can be Treated by Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?
Some of the conditions that can benefit from pelvic floor physical therapy include:
- Urinary frequency
- Urinary or fecal incontinence
- Painful urination
- Vaginal or rectal prolapse
- Erectile dysfunction
- Painful intercourse
- Vaginismus (involuntary vaginal muscle spasm)
- Discomfort or pain in the lower back or groin
- Pelvic pain after prostate surgery or childbirth