Throughout my experience as a pelvic floor physical therapist I have heard many misconceptions from clients regarding pelvic PT. In this blog, I would like to provide more information to help clear up some of the most common myths out there about pelvic floor PT.
Myth #1: Pelvic floor PT is the same as “doing your Kegels”.
This is a myth that is quite widespread and I hear it from both providers and clients alike! Although knowledge of pelvic floor PT as an option for addressing women’s pelvic floor issues is severely lacking in the general public, most women I work with have heard of Kegels. Many of my clients regretfully inform me that they wish they had listened to their medical provider and “done their Kegels” after childbirth to help their pelvic floor recover. Even more women tell me at their first visit that they have started “doing their Kegels” but a) aren’t sure if they’re doing them correctly, and b) do them halfheartedly when they think of it because they weren’t informed of how many to do or how often to do them.
A quality pelvic floor physical therapist will address SO MUCH MORE than Kegels. We perform a completely different type of internal exam than you may be used to at the gynecologist. We are spending time thoroughly evaluating the tone, strength, endurance, speed and coordination of multiple layers of pelvic floor muscles and empower you with information about your body. We perform a holistic assessment including the relationship between your pelvic floor muscles and the bigger picture of your movement strategies/patterns, your posture, your alignment, and how it is all influenced by the context of your life as a person. And yes, we will also let you know if you’re doing a Kegel correctly and if you should be doing them at all. And if they happen to be part of your exercise program, you bet we’ll prescribe reps, sets, frequency and hold times.
Myth #2: You have to have delivered a baby to require pelvic floor PT. (Sub-myth: delivery via C-section doesn’t require pelvic floor PT).
Many women assume that if they haven’t delivered via the vaginal canal that they are probably exempt from pelvic floor issues. Or women who have never undergone childbirth may feel alone, isolated, and unheard if they are experiencing issues such as dyspareunia (pain during intercourse), urinary leakage (incontinence), or urinary frequency/urgency. The truth is that pelvic floor conditions can impact you regardless of your childbearing history! Past experiences, hormone imbalances, life stressors, or pelvic trauma (even old abdominal or pelvic surgeries) can influence the state of the pelvic floor.
And women that have delivered a baby via Cesarean section still had to carry that baby throughout about 9 months of pregnancy! And you bet the pelvic floor had to adapt to accommodate those changes. Not to mention the impact that changes in posture, ligament laxity, and breathing mechanics during pregnancy have on the pelvic floor as well. Check out our blog “What Does a Pelvic PT Actually Do?” for signs that indicate you would benefit from seeing a pelvic floor PT.
Myth #3: It’s too late for me to get help, I’ve let things go on for too long.
This is my favorite myth to bust! Women quite frequently express this tender fear to me at their first appointment, that perhaps they are a lost cause. This couldn’t be further from the truth! No matter what your age or how long you’ve been sucking it up and struggling silently with your symptoms, there is hope. You can always gain power in knowledge about your body, build novel body awareness, commit to some lifestyle changes or form a new habit, start up a new exercise routine, build muscle strength, learn stress reduction and breathing techniques or finally be connected to the right provider to help manage your condition. No matter how bad you think things are or how alone you feel, know that there are actually many other women out there dealing with a very similar issue! You are not alone, it’s never too late-- please reach out!
Dr. Julie Berube is a pelvic floor physical therapist who is on a mission to revolutionize the standard of healthcare for women in Central New York and the Syracuse area.
Inside the Synergy Center in Manlius, NY:
4500 Pewter Ln, Buildings 8&9
Manlius, NY 13104
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