What is Pelvic Floor Therapy?

Your pelvic floor is a series of muscles and tissues that stretch from your tailbone to your pubic bone. It supports your bladder, bowel, and uterus, and your urethra, vagina, and anus pass through it. When the muscles or ligaments are too weak or too tight, you may experience pain, discomfort, incontinence, and other symptoms.

Pelvic floor issues can be treated with pelvic floor therapy led by an experienced gynecologist such as Dr. Michelle Starke of The Center for Gynecology & Restorative Medicine. Before we discuss how pelvic floor rehabilitation works, let’s explore if it might be the right treatment for your symptoms.

Reasons for pelvic floor therapy

Many women associate pelvic floor therapy as a treatment to correct injury and stretching from pregnancy or childbirth. While both can cause damage to the pelvic floor, it’s not the only reason for pelvic floor therapy. This specialized type of physical therapy is also used to help treat:

You may be surprised to learn that pelvic floor therapy can help such a wide variety of symptoms. Dr. Starke conducts a physical examination and asks you questions to determine if pelvic floor therapy is right for you.

What to expect during a session

A large part of pelvic floor therapy is education. Dr. Starke may discuss the anatomy of your pelvic floor and show you pictures or models of the area to help you understand the issues you have. Because some women experience pain or shame associated with pelvic floor issues, it’s crucial you’re completely comfortable and at ease before any physical therapy begins. Some women don’t start the physical aspects of treatment during the first session while others are prepared to jump right in.

First, you may go through a series of exercises to help your posture and increase blood flow. You may also need an internal massage to break up scar tissue. This is similar to a standard vaginal exam, but it lasts longer. You may experience pressure or discomfort during pelvic floor treatments. However, if you experience any pain, be sure to let Dr. Starke know right away.

Dr. Starke may also use low-voltage electrical stimulation within the vagina. She will insert a small wand, which will send electrical pulses to your muscles, causing them to tighten and relax. This type of therapy has been shown to be effective with a 65% general improvement rate after three months. It’s particularly effective at treating urination problems associated with laughing, sneezing, or other forms of stress incontinence and bowel issues, with a 78% improvement rate.

A vaginal dilator might also be used. These are silicone tubes that are inserted into the vagina. You will be asked to squeeze your pelvic muscles around the dilator in a series of exercises meant to strengthen your pelvic floor while gently stretching your vagina.

Sessions tend to last between 45 minutes to an hour. You will perform a series of exercises during that time. You will also be given a home exercise plan that you’ll need to complete in-between sessions in our office.

Duration of pelvic floor therapy

Pelvic floor issues are rarely fixed in a single session. The length of your treatment plan depends on your specific issues and goals. Depending on the seriousness of your problems and the effectiveness of home exercises, you may have one or two sessions a week. Most people show improvement after 2-3 months of therapy. After the first few sessions, we may be able to decrease the frequency of your in-office treatment if you’re making progress at home.

Getting the most from pelvic floor therapy

Pelvic floor therapy will be more effective if you engage with the process. A few things you can do to increase your chances of success include:

If you suspect you have pelvic floor dysfunction, you can make an appointment with Dr. Starke for a consultation. Call our Coral Gables office today to get on the right track with pelvic floor therapy.

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