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Pelvic Health Physiotherapy: An Introduction

Pelvic Health Physiotherapy: An Introduction

By Bhawan Sekhon, MScPT

I remember speaking to an older physiotherapist who defined pelvic health physiotherapy as a FAD – just another course taken, “adding skills to the resume” he said. He didn’t understand the intricacies and delicacy of working with people and their pelvic health. He didn’t know the impact that pelvic health physiotherapy could have, particularly when seen from the perspective of evidence-based holistic health. However, having been through it myself and seeing the benefit every day as a Physiotherapist with pelvic health training, there is a hole that pelvic health physiotherapy fills in the healthcare system that has long been ignored.

What does Pelvic Health Physiotherapy treat?

pelvic physiotherapy

Everywhere we look, we can see references to pelvic health; there are so many beliefs and symptoms around pelvic health and everyone has a story. To name a few, urinary incontinence does not have to be a side effect of birthing or a prostate removal surgery; you do not need to endure pain during sexual activity; and, contrary to popular belief, you can exercise and even lift weights while having a prolapse. Pelvic health physiotherapy can support all genders, across all ages with any symptoms related to the functions of the pelvic floor, pain, preparation for and recovery from birth and labour, and/or diastasis recti to name but a few.

Where is the Pelvic Floor and what does it do?

pelvic floorInitially, when thinking about pelvic health, our attention is drawn to the pelvis, a sturdy and beautifully supportive structure that holds some of the most vulnerable interactions we have in this world. Within it, we find the pelvic floor muscles and organs that we use for multiple purposes daily – voiding, sexual activity, athletics, or protection to name a few. The pelvic floor muscle system is fluid – moving with each breath, movement, and even thought – and is intimately connected to our immune system, hormonal systems, and our nervous system.

Like other muscles in our body, the pelvic floor muscles are also activated by the nervous system. This means that both relaxation and contraction of the pelvic floor muscles relies on the nervous system and our ability to tap into the stress and restorative responses. I like to think of the nerves that flow through our body as information highways that constantly send messages from the outside world and our inner selves to the supercomputer, the brain, and back again.

How should Pelvic Health be addressed?

Pelvic health is more than the active contracting and relaxing of muscle; it considers a biopsychosocial perspective. In other words, how does our body, our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs and the world around us influence our overall and pelvic health? With this perspective, pelvic health physiotherapy aims to address symptoms in a holistic and catered manner specific to the person because our thoughts, emotions, beliefs and experiences are unique to us and colour each of our symptoms differently.  Learn more about the biopsychosocial approach here.

How do I know Pelvic Health Physiotherapy is right for me?

Given the personal and specific nature of pelvic health in general, the best way to know if pelvic health physiotherapy might be an option for you is to see a physiotherapist with pelvic health training. I always encourage everyone to consider what their pelvic health may look like and if there may be some signs or symptoms they would like to work on. Alternatively, taking the route of preventative care by preparing for birth or surgery is always recommended.

 

To learn more about Pelvic Health Physiotherapy, join me next Thurs, Nov 18th at 7p via ZOOM for a FREE webinar.

Register here!

Bhawan Sekhon is a registered Pelvic Health Physiotherapist and assistant clinical professor (Adjunct, McMaster University), member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association (CPA) and the Ontario Physiotherapy Association (OPA).

Web site: whollypelvis.ca