Women’s health physiotherapists treat pelvic floor dysfunction such as vaginismus and vulvodynia. Treatment usually includes manual therapy to release tight muscles and relaxation techniques. Electrical stimulation and bladder training are also used.
Menopause: Irregular periods that become closer together or stop altogether, hot flushes and loss of interest in sex due to hormonal changes. Treatment involves specific exercises and mindfulness to reduce these distressing symptoms.
1. Relieves Back Pain
The pelvic floor muscles and tissues can become weakened or damaged after childbirth. Women’s health physiotherapists can provide rehabilitation and treatment to help alleviate pain from this problem. They can also offer advice on how to prevent further problems and can help with postural changes caused by pregnancy and breastfeeding.
During an appointment with a women’s health physiotherapist, the first thing that will be done is to assess the problem. This is done by asking questions, taking a thorough history and doing a physical examination. This can be a bit uncomfortable, but is important for diagnosis. The physiotherapist will insert one gloved finger, with some lubrication, into the vagina and palpate the pelvic floor muscles. They will look for any prolapses of the pelvic organs, perineal scarring and other signs of damage.
They will also assess the strength of the abdominal and core muscle groups. These are very important for preventing back pain, especially when lifting or sitting for long periods of time. Women’s health physiotherapists will usually incorporate exercise into the session to help strengthen these muscles. These exercises can be performed while seated or standing and they may include some Pilates based moves.
Sexual dysfunction post childbirth is common and a major cause of this is due to traumatized pelvic floor muscles and even overstretched nerves during delivery. This can cause problems such as dyspareunia (painful sex) and vulvodynia (chronic pain or reduced or heightened sensitivity of the vulva). Women’s health physiotherapist will usually use manual therapy to release tight muscle, retrain the weak pelvic floor muscles and use relaxation technique. They will also advise on lifestyle modification to improve symptoms.
A women’s health physiotherapist can also assist with a number of other conditions and issues that arise during pregnancy and after birth. This can include treating caesarean section scars with connective tissue therapy to reduce the tightness of the external and underlying layers. They can also assist with readjusting to postural changes that occur after childbirth and breastfeeding and advising on safe return to exercise to avoid injury. They can also help with mechanical infertility related to pelvic adhesions and some research has shown that manual soft tissue therapy may facilitate fertility in these patients.
2. Improves Sleep
Women’s health physiotherapy covers a wide range of concerns including issues around the bladder, bowel and pelvic floor muscles pre and post pregnancy, after gynaecological surgery and around menopause. Physiotherapy can help improve strength, balance, posture and overall physical fitness as well as alleviate pain, relieve stress and increase function.
In a study published in the PTJ, Siengsukon and her colleagues found that participants who attended physiotherapy sessions with a specialized focus on sleep experienced improved self-assessed sleep quality compared to those receiving standard physiotherapy. The research incorporated a combination of instrumental and clinical assessments of sleep such as polysomnography, electroencephalograms (EEG), electromyography and actigraphy along with a variety of subjective measures of sleep such as the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, or PSQI.
The study involved a total of 63 people who were randomly allocated into three groups, either physiotherapy with sleep education, standard physiotherapy with no specific focus on sleep or a control group. All participants received a PSQI score at the beginning of the study and then again after six weeks to assess their sleep quality. Those who attended physiotherapy with a women’s health specialist showed significantly better self-assessed sleep quality compared with those in the control and standard physiotherapy groups.
One of the reasons women often experience poor sleep is due to having a low level of core and pelvic floor muscle strength. A Women’s health physiotherapist can help improve these muscles by providing a tailored program of pelvic floor exercises and relaxation techniques. This can result in improvements of bladder and bowel control, reduction in urinary incontinence and improvements in sexual function.
A physiotherapist can also assist with post-natal women’s health concerns including treatment of abdominal and pelvic pain, improving strength and mobility following a caesarean section and treating the c-section scar using connective tissue therapy that includes massage to soften the external layer of the scar and release the underlying fascia. They can also help women with mechanical infertility caused by pelvic adhesions that reduce fertility. The use of manual soft tissue therapy has been shown to improve the likelihood of conception in patients with this condition.
3. Reduces Fatigue
Women’s health physiotherapy is a specialised area of physiotherapy that deals with a range of women’s health issues that are different from those that men experience. These include bladder or bowel dysfunction including incontinence and pelvic pain, diastasis recti (tummy separation) after pregnancy, gynaecological surgery, musculoskeletal complaints pre and post-pregnancy, menopause and more.
The benefits of women’s health physiotherapy are vast, and they extend far beyond just pelvic pain or incontinence. It can also improve conditions like osteoporosis, which commonly occurs after menopause and causes bone density loss. In addition, physiotherapy can help you improve symptoms that are caused by hormonal changes. This includes reducing fatigue and improving your ability to exercise or perform other activities.
Women can self-refer to a specialist women’s health physiotherapist to address a wide range of women’s health concerns. These include incontinence, pelvic/ vaginal pain, musculoskeletal issues pre and post-pregnancy, gynaecological surgeries, osteoporosis, lymphedema, rehabilitation following breast surgery, education prevention, wellness and exercise. All females across the life span from the young athlete to the childbearing and post-partum woman to the elderly menopausal woman can benefit from women’s health physiotherapy.
While many people may know that physiotherapy can reduce back and neck pain, many are unaware of the other health benefits it provides. It can also improve women’s health in many ways, including reducing fatigue. This is especially true when it comes to addressing pelvic floor dysfunction, which can be caused by trauma, gynaecological disorders or even ageing.
In fact, a study found that women who received physiotherapy for pelvic floor dysfunction experienced fewer fatigue symptoms than those who did not receive the treatment. The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Colorado Denver and included more than 200 women who had a variety of pelvic floor problems, such as urinary incontinence or low back pain.
Considering that fatigue is such a common problem among many individuals, it’s important to find ways to manage it. Fortunately, there are several things that you can do to help reduce fatigue, such as getting more sleep, taking vitamin D supplements and exercising regularly.
4. Reduces Inflammation
Women’s health physiotherapy is an effective way to treat problems that occur in the pelvic area, including urinary incontinence, prolapse and sexual dysfunction. These problems can be caused by pregnancy, childbirth, gynaecological surgery, menopause or other factors. Physiotherapy aims to reduce inflammation and restore muscle strength and function.
A women’s physiotherapist is a highly trained healthcare professional who specializes in treating female-specific health issues. They work with women of all ages, from adolescence through to menopause and beyond. Women’s physiotherapists can help with pelvic floor dysfunction, urinary incontinence, vulva pain or discomfort (vulvodynia), postural issues, back and neck pain and much more.
Women’s health physiotherapy is particularly important for women during the reproductive phase of their lives. It can help with pelvic pain and dysfunction, such as urinary incontinence, prolapse, ovarian cysts, endometriosis and much more. It can also improve pelvic support, and enhance overall quality of life.
Physiotherapy can help with pre-pregnancy planning, preparation for a caesarean section and breast cancer treatment recovery. Women with gynaecological surgery such as a hysterectomy or ovarian cystectomy can benefit from physiotherapy to help retrain the pelvic muscles and improve core stability.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is common after childbirth. Women can experience incontinence, or leakage of urine while coughing, sneezing or laughing (stress incontinence). In some cases, the problem is permanent and will require ongoing care. Women’s health physiotherapy can improve these symptoms by re-educating the pelvic floor muscles, teaching correct posture, exercises and manual therapy.
A women’s physiotherapist can also be of assistance with mechanical infertility caused by pelvic adhesions. Research has shown that patients who undergo physiotherapy with manual soft tissue manipulation have a higher chance of conceiving than those who don’t have treatment.
The best thing to do when looking for a women’s health physiotherapist is to ask friends, family and colleagues for recommendations. They will be able to provide valuable insight into the quality of care and education they received. It is also a good idea to check the practitioner’s qualifications and experience. Make sure they are registered with a reputable governing body to ensure that you receive high-quality care.