What is Women’s and Men’s Health Physiotherapy?
Physiotherapy that concentrates specifically on treating Women’s and Men’s Health; conditions associated with the pelvis (Also referred to as Pelvic Health). Treatment involves a detailed and skilled assessment of the musculoskeletal system as well as the muscles inside the body known as the pelvic floor.
Many Women and Men suffer in silence when it comes to pelvic health, maybe, unaware that a solution is out there, or assume it’s a normal part of ageing or having a child. This is not the case.
Often people feel too embarrassed to seek help, on average its takes women and men 4-7 years of suffering before going to visit a health practitioner.
Physiotherapists in this area are very experienced and a large part of their job is to understand the taboo and embarrassment people feel when managing these highly sensitive conditions. It is one of the reasons our specialist, Teja, feels so passionate about helping this client group.
Clinical evidence supporting this type work is very strong, as a result the NICE guidelines for urinary incontinence recommend that physiotherapy should be first line management.
What does it treat?
Pregnancy related back and pelvic health conditions – antenatal and postnatal:
- Pelvic girdle pain
- Symphysis pubis dysfunction
- Coccyx pain
- Back pain
- Thoracic Pain
- Wrist and Shoulder Pain (associated with pregnancy)
- Diastasis Rectus Abdominis (Separation of the abdominal muscles)
In pregnancy the body starts to change from as early as conception, involving the pelvis and the pelvic floor muscles. Statistics show that up to 80% of women can develop some form of back or pelvic girdle pain and in a smaller percentage, this can become severe. Specialists work to restore function and reduce pain throughout pregnancy and the postnatal period using a variety of techniques including manual therapy techniques, myofascial release, advice and exercise.
The Mummy MOT
The Mummy MOT is a postnatal detailed physiotherapy assessment of the abdominal and pelvic area that specifically checks:
- Tummy gap
- Pelvic Floor
You will receive a report of the findings and an appropriate safe exercise programme will be prescribed.
The Mummy MOT identifies muscle imbalances through the assessment and the restorative exercise programme corrects them, regaining stability and allowing optimal function.
The Mummy MOT is performed by a Specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist and is designed for all women who have had a baby so whether you are 6 weeks or 6 years postnatal the Mummy MOT is for you.
Teja works closely with local postnatal Pilates and fitness specialists in order to progress your fitness effectively and safely.
Here is a shirt video by Maria Elliott, the founder of the Mummy MOT, explaining more – here
Pelvic Floor related conditions
- Stress urinary incontinence
- Urge urinary incontinence, urgency and frequency
- Nocturia (waking during the night to empty bladder)
- Giggle incontinence
- Faecal incontinence
- Defecation disorders
- The feeling of something coming down, bulging sensation
- Pain in and around the pelvis
- Pain in the genitalia
- Sexual pain
- Erectile dysfunction
The pelvic floor is a complex group of muscle that forms a bowl shape in the base of the pelvis. These muscles are fundamental in supporting the bladder, bowel and womb. If the pelvic floor muscles are not working properly this can result in a number of symptoms, for example leaking, urgency and vaginal prolapse. The pelvic floor undergoes significant change during pregnancy and delivery, and can cause dysfunction in up to 1 in 3 women. The pelvic floor muscles change throughout life, meaning that menopause is another time when women can start to experience symptoms. Specialist physiotherapists, are able to, assess and treat these muscles, which may be underactive, overactive or both! Overactive pelvic floor muscles can cause pain in and around the pelvis and genitalia, or painful intercourse. In these circumstances detailed assessment may reveal the need to release these muscles, allowing the pelvic floor to relax and be re-taught to work correctly again.
Men also have a pelvic floor and sometimes this can become weak causing urinary incontinence (urge or stress) or erectile problems. Overactive pelvic floor muscles can cause pain in and around the pelvis, prostatitis or perineal pain.
- Restore function
- Reduce Pain
- Restore quality of life
Training & Experience:
A Women’s and Men’s Health Physiotherapist must undergo the same training as a Physiotherapist, gaining an approved degree and practicing for 2-3 years in a hospital or practice. They then need to undertake further training to specialise in the pelvic area and gain full membership with the POGP (Pelvic Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy), achieved by completing MSc modules in Pelvic Health.
Will I need Internal examination?
Your physiotherapist will talk through your symptoms and medical history and carry out an assessment, this may involve an internal assessment with your consent and after discussion.
Can I bring or request a chaperone?
Yes absolutely, if that makes you feel more comfortable. Some people feel happier to attend alone and this is fine too, the most important thing is you don’t delay and see someone about your problem.
Can I still come if I am on my period or bleeding?
Yes you can, as you may not require an internal assessment on every visit.
How many sessions will I need?
This depends on your diagnosis; your physiotherapist will be able to discuss recovery time and put a plan in place with you after the initial assessment. Between the two of you, you can keep reviewing your progress and amend your treatment plan if necessary.
What should I wear?
It is recommended that you wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment, so your clinician can easily access the area that needs treating.
Will it be painful?
You shouldn’t experience any pain you cannot tolerate, some people may find parts of their treatment uncomfortable, depending on the problem, but your clinicians should tell you what to expect. If anything is getting too uncomfortable it’s important you tell your clinician immediately.
Do I need to see a Doctor or Consultant first?
Not at all, you can just call up and book an appointment.
Is it safe to have treatment when pregnant?
Physiotherapy is safe throughout your pregnancy and after, but it is important you let your physiotherapist know you are pregnant and any relevant details. Your Physio will take a full obstetric history and will adapt treatment as necessary
I feel embarrassed about discussing my problem and being examined?
Many people feel this way, but please be assured you will be treated with complete discretion and compassion and we will have seen the problem many times before – they are more common than you may think. But if you are feeling anxious just let your clinician know and they will do their best to ease this anxiety and answer any questions you may have.
Do I need to bring anything else with me?
In most cases the answer to this question is no, come as you are. However, if you have a diagnosis from a doctor it would be useful to have this information with you.
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