On International Women’s Day we should take a moment and reflect on the rights and needs of all women for health and wellness. This includes access to good healthcare, access to unbiased education regarding her body, and ultimate control over what treatment and care she receives.
No women should accept pain, incontinence, or discomfort as part and parcel of their life, or as an accepted outcome of being a woman or having children. There is much we can do to help and Physiotherapy plays an important role.
An important issue affecting women is pelvic health. Pelvic health includes pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, sexual health, and cervical and ovarian cancer.
So how does Physiotherapy fit into this?
Women’s Health Physiotherapists are specifically trained to assess and treat pelvic floor related problems. The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles that sits underneath the pelvis, quite literally, creating a muscular floor.
The pelvic floor has four main roles, these are:
- supporting the pelvic organs, that is the bladder, uterus and bowel
- keeping us continent
- allowing satisfying sex, and
- providing stability to our back and pelvis, by being an integral part of the “core” muscles.
When the pelvic floor fails to work well, we can experience incontinence, pelvic pain, back pain, and/or heaviness or aching in our lower back or pelvis. While a weak pelvic floor is often the cause of these problems, a pelvic floor that is too strong or tight could also cause many of these symptoms.
A thorough assessment by a women’s health physio will be able to determine the cause, teach you about what is causing your specific concerns and about what steps can be taken to effectively treat and manage your specific concerns.
Physiotherapy has been shown to be an effective first line treatment for incontinence, urgency, early pelvic organ prolapse, and pelvic pain.
We are also finding that early intervention, that is seeking treatment and looking after our pelvic floor before there is a problem is so much more effective. By doing this we can even prevent the need for more significant complications and invasive intervention. This means having a women’s health physio assessment as part of your 6 week post natal check, and working out how to protect your pelvic floor as you get back into life and exercise.
In summary, Physiotherapy is effective early management and can teach you
- about your symptoms,
- what steps you can take to protect your body,
- how to safely strengthen your pelvic floor,
- how to safely exercise, and
- conservative management that will help support your pelvic organs, and help prevent the need for surgery.
So take this moment to help the women in our lives look after themselves, not accept pain and incontinence as a given and allow for a healthier future.
Rebecca Reicher, at Bondi Junction Physiotherapy, is a Women’s Health Physiotherapist with 15 years of experience working with women helping them to be strong, healthy, and the best they can be.
In honour of International Women’s Day Bondi Junction Physiotherapy is donating $100 to Jean Hailes for Women’s Health.