Let’s talk about Pelvic health
One of the biggest challenges moving forwards with improving pelvic healthcare is educating and inspiring others to become aware of their own pelvic health and needs.
It’s so important that people are able to self select and seek the right care and support from the right person at the right time.
🌸 what are your pelvic health needs?
🌸 why does it matter?
🌸 when should you seek help if you have any concerns?
Many people are fobbed off with pelvic health concerns as normal and common and just get in with it.
Newsflash: yes it’s common, but NO it NOT NORMAL.
It matters because you are important, you deserve better knowledge and awareness to help you live your best quality of life you can.
It takes an average of FIVE years for someone to ask for help with their pelvic health symptoms. FIVE years! That is bonkers!! There is a research that shows a direct correlation between children starting school and parents finally tuning back into their bodies and needs.
We need to talk about WORDING. I’m really interested to know what do the words “Pelvic Health Care” bring to your mind?
Does urinary incontinence mean anything to you?
Or does bladder leakage?
How about wetting yourself?
Which words can you relate to??
Time to change the conversation around pelvic health and that change IS coming.
It doesn’t just happen to old people. It affects us all and it’s time we embrace it and not cover it up with embarrassment and shame.
Here are the main points I see as barriers to more people seeking help for their pelvic health needs.
They don’t know enough about it.
They don’t self select themselves.
It’s not a priority, don’t have time, lack of awareness, can’t be bothered, ALL THE EXCUSES.
Don’t know HOW to access help or WHO to turn to.
When I first wanted to become a Physio I had NO IDEA that pelvic health physiotherapy existed.
During my first year of training when I did finally hear about it I literally thought NO WAY especially when I learnt about the pelvic floor aspect to the job!
Fast forward 8 years of NHS working and I had the privilege of working alongside a fantastic pelvic health physiotherapy team.
This area of Physio is essential for many, yet it is unknown by the majority.
When you turn to your GP for help with incontinence concerns, painful sex, scar concerns from c-section/perineum or even just aches and pains around the pelvis or constipation issues, pelvic health physio’s can help you out immensely.
GETTING TO A WOMENS HEALTH PHYSIO is the hard part!
Some do self referral, some take GP referrals, some take consultant referrals, it’s a minefield!
It is a post code lottery too, however, there is a directory of pelvic health physiotherapists as although many are NHS employed there are a lot more private pelvic health physio’s available.
You can search for one in your area HERE
Don’t delay the search as YOU ARE IMPORTANT.
A little bit about PELVIC HEALTH and a PELVIC HEALTH PHYSIOTHERAPIST’S job.
A pelvic health physiotherapist may see a variety of ailments that mainly link to problems relating to the pelvic area.
These can be related to toileting issues, pelvic pain, pregnancy ailments, post natal tummy separation issues and such like. So let’s take a look at exactly what they commonly “see” patients for in clinic.
Musculoskeletal pain – mainly lower back and pelvic regions, but commonly wrists, hips and feet in pregnancy and post partum.
Incontinence – urinary, faecal or wind related.
Pelvic organ prolapse – heaviness, dragging or bulging feeling down below.
Diastasis recti – tummy muscle separation issues.
Scar tissue healing – post c-section, hysterectomy or perineal tears.
Altered sensation relating to bladder and bowel function.
Pain during intercourse or penetration.
Increased frequency, urgency or hesistancy when needing to empty the bladder or bowel.
Bowel health – constipation.
Vagina health – unable to insert a tampon/menstrual cup, painful periods, feeling to loose/open, inability to have a smear test.
Inability to feel, find or engage pelvic floor muscles.
Incomplete emptying of the bladder or bowel issues.
Exercise advise and guidelines for pregnancy and post partum.
Labour and childbirth optimal positioning and pelvic floor education training.
Recovery post gynaecological, bowel or abdominal surgery.
Hopefully that list gives you a bit of insight, but as you can see the pelvic health physiotherapist role is wide and diverse.
Some may specialise in obstetric health (pregnancy) and others may specialise in continence health (bladder/bowel health), it really does vary but most will assess and treat both areas.
Have you ever heard of a pelvic health physiotherapist?
Do you know we exist?
Let’s bust some PELVIC HEALTH myths
Peeing your pants little or often can be extremely COMMON so please don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed about it if this is happening to you, but IT IS NOT NORMAL.
Equally, you don’t have to put up with those feelings, help is out there but it’s important you see the right person at the right time.
I’d highly recommend an assessment with a PELVIC HEALTH PHYSIOTHERAPIST.
This is a post code lottery I’m afraid. Sometimes you can self refer, sometimes you need a GP referral, sometimes only consultant or midwife referrals are accepted.
It depends on your local care quality commission and what they fund/don’t fund in your area. BONKERS, I KNOW!!
It doesn’t matter HOW MUCH or HOW LITTLE you leak or even WHEN (cough, sneeze, laugh, run, jump, can’t hold it in long enough) it is still classed as INCONTINENCE.
Incontinence is NOT JUST WEE either. It can be wind, poo or water post swimming or a bath.
Signs of ANY AMOUNT of leakage, IS LEAKAGE.
See the signs – your pelvic floor muscles need a bit of TLC and an assessment + workout.
IT’S NEVER TO LATE TO START PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES.
“Oh it’s to late for me, I had my babies weeks, months, years ago”. Nope, it isn’t to late for anyone, any age, any gender.
Also for those who have a job that involves heavy lifting, they have a chronic cough or are overweight = it’s never to late to start making small changes that result in BIG LIFESTYLE GAINS.
PREGNANCY AND BIRTH = Obstetric History.
Regardless of whether you leak or don’t leak post pregnancy and birth,
REMEMBER: the menopause is when your Obstetric History catches up with you.
For any of us who have been pregnant and regardless of the method of delivery ALL OF US have had our pelvic floor muscles SAT ON and SQUISHED for up to NINE MONTHS! That’s a lot of squishing in a LOOOOONG space of time.
Pelvic floor muscles exercises are for LIFE post pregnancy and post birth.
Once post natal, ALWAYS post natal!
PELVIC HEALTH CARE IS FOR LIFE 💕
BARRIERS to pelvic health care.
If we all looked after our pelvic health like we do our teeth, hair or even nails for some of us we would all benefit enormously.
BUT… because we can’t see the muscles inside and maybe because we’re not having issues, yet…it is often pushed to the bottom of the pile.
Here are some of the reasons (AKA EXCUSES) for me not doing my pelvic health care exercises;
I don’t have time;
I’m to tired;
I can’t be bothered;
I’m fine today I don’t need to;
I need to do x,y and z;
The children are sick;
The children need all my attention, all day;
I’m working, cleaning, cooking, sick;
Stacks of reasons and this is only just scratching the surface!
I remember once saying to a friend (naively) who had kids and I didn’t at this point:
“just do them everyday when you brush your teeth, make it a habit”,
to which she replied “Marie, some days I don’t even get to brush my teeth!” and I was like really?!?
But really, yes this is the reality for lots of us. Bottom of the pile, gliding like a swan but paddling ferociously underneath to stay afloat.
What stops you seeking pelvic health care or even practicing regular pelvic floor exercises?
Have you done your squeezes today?
Check it out!
Ladies we really don’t talk about this nearly enough but its so important we regularly check our vulva for it’s general appearance so that post childbirth, or menopause, or surgery we know what was our “normal” state of affairs down there.
We need to be getting our daughters to check also and talking to them about the WHY this is important.
If you are worried you may have a pelvic organ prolapse, brilliant Jeanice from @mypelvicfloormuscles shows you a step by step demo in photos which I just love.
Now go grab a mirror and check out your lady parts!
What should you expect when you go and see a pelvic health physiotherapist for the first time? This is a great question and one that many are not familiar with, including physiotherapists who do not specialise in this domain. A physiotherapist is widely known (often...
POGP, Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecology Physiotherapy professional body in the UK
Pelvic Floor First, Australia
ERIC: Children’s bladder and bowel charity
Pelvicroar – uniting pelvic health campaigns
The Well HQ – Health and training with a female filter
Instagram Accounts to follow:
@mypelvicfloormuscles | @clarebournephysio | @physiomumuk | @pelvicguru1 | @umihealth | @pelvic.organ.party