Do you pee a little when you sneeze? Your pelvic floor may be reason why.
What is your pelvic floor and why does it matter?
The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that you can imagine as a small trampoline stretching underneath the pelvis from front to back. On top of the trampoline sits the bladder, rectum and sexual organs. Your pelvic floor not only supports these organs, it also squeezes these openings tightly shut and relaxes these muscles for proper emptying and control of the bladder and bowel, good sexual function and even vaginal delivery. Just like a trampoline, these muscles can be strong and resilient or weak and unsupported.
Luckily, like any other muscles in your body, the pelvic floor muscles can be exercised and strengthened with training. Pelvic floor therapy typically consists of standard physical therapy practices such as guided exercises, stretches and massage, which can help to condition these muscles to support a wide range of issues and improve quality of life.
Check out the five things you need to know about pelvic floor therapy.
1. It’s for all ages and genders
Pelvic floor therapy is beneficial for men, women, transgender persons and children of all ages. Children who have prolonged daytime or nighttime wetting, bowel issues, or congenital diagnoses can often benefit from therapy. Pelvic floor therapy can also be a powerful tool against aging as it can maximize quality of life and decrease the risk of infections, especially UTIs.
2. It can improve bladder, bowel and sexual function
Urinary, fecal and sexual dysfunction can be embarrassing to talk about, but pelvic floor therapy can treat a variety of these symptoms. Incontinence, constipation, painful intercourse or reduced sensation during intercourse are just a few common examples of issues that can be treated with pelvic floor therapy.
3. It can help to identify and manage pain at its source
Pain in and around the pelvic area can be debilitating and difficult to diagnose. Pelvic floor therapists have specialized training in the pelvic anatomy as well as the surrounding joints, including the lower back, hips and tailbone, that might prove useful for your recovery.
4. It can lead to a speedy recovery post-operation or postpartum
Pelvic floor therapy can help reduce pain, swelling and scar tissue development to ensure a speedy recovery after abdominal surgeries, colostomy placements/removals, cesarean sections, episiotomies and more.
5. It’s often covered by insurance
Pelvic floor therapy is part of your physical therapy, or occupational therapy, benefits. Medicare, Medicaid and most private insurance policies include coverage that may vary depending on your specific policy. Your insurance company can answer any questions about coverage in your policy.
Learn more about pelvic floor therapy and find a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor therapy at Ochsner.
Editor's note: This blog was originally published on Oct. 28, 2019 and has since been updated.