Incontinence and Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction can lead to symptoms of Incontinence which is leakage from the bladder or back passage. Studies have proven that Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy and Pelvic Floor exercises can reduce or cure symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction and its various presentations.
Before we become pregnant and have babies we are less likely to have problems with our pelvic floor. This is because the pelvic floor is under subconscious control so when we cough, sneeze, laugh, run and jump the pelvic floor makes adjustments to ensure that the pelvic organs and abdominal contents are well supported. Suddenly during pregnancy, or after having a baby (and sometimes before then) your pelvic floor may fail to do all its jobs correctly. Likewise if you are involved in a sport that involves increasing the loads through your pelvic floor e.g Crossfit, heavy weight lifting, Gymnastics you may experience some of the following things:
Symptoms of Pelvic Floor weakness or Dysfunction:
- Stress Urinary Incontinence; Leakage of urine when you cough/sneeze/ get up from sitting/walk fast/run/ jump on the trampoline/ do star-jumps/ dance the siege of Ennis at a wedding
- Urge Urinary Incontinence ie feeling a strong urge to pass water even when you may have gone recently enough before
- Mixed Urinary Incontinence
- A feeling of pressure in your vagina or back passage that may be worse at the end of the day or after exercise
- Pain on sudden movement or during intercourse
- Faecal incontinence or reduced control when you pass wind
- Pain during intercourse ( Dyspareunia)
What do you do if you have any of the above symptoms?
Your first line of treatment is always to do your pelvic floor exercises, you can find an instructional video here Doing Pelvic Floor Exercises can really help the problem but they take time and perseverance! You can read about doing your pelvic floor exercises here. If you feel improvement after about 6 weeks of devotedly doing your exercises at least twice a day, great, keep going and you should continue to improve.
Try to avoid straining on the toilet. Avoiding constipation is the best way to avoid straining. Eat a well balanced diet, drink plenty of fluids and get some regular exercise if you can. Lean forwards while sitting on the toilet for a good emptying position; using a little foot stool can help with this position.
If after 6 weeks of really concentrating on your exercises you don’t feel a change, if you have not already, this is when you should visit your Women’s Health Physiotherapist for a physiotherapy consultation. During a pelvic floor assessment, you will learn how well your muscles are functioning at rest and during work. You may require some treatment in the form of manual therapy which will address any problem areas in the muscles e.g trigger points that may be preventing correct movement of the muscles, and you will be given an exercise program that is specific to findings from the assessment. You may discuss your goals with your physiotherapists and start suitable exercises that will aim to get you back to doing the activities your enjoy.