The Pelvic Floor

Healthy, active and strong pelvic floor muscles are very important to women throughout life. Weak and poorly controlled muscles can lead to prolapse and loss of bladder or bowel control. Physiotherapists trained in continence management can assess your pelvic floor muscles and, if necessary, help you strengthen and regain their control.

What Do Pelvic Floor Muscles Do?

The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus, vagina and bowel. They form a muscular and elastic floor across the bottom of the pelvis. When tightened, the muscles lift the organs and constrict their openings. The muscles relax to empty the bladder and bowel. Stretching of these muscles during childbirth and straining with constipation sometimes causes muscle weakening. As there may be reasons other than muscle weakness for loss of bladder and bowel control, professional advice should be sought for all incontinence problems.

roller blading

indoor lawn bowls
Signs of Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles

bullet leaking urine when sneezing, coughing, running (or other sudden actions)
bullet not getting to the toilet in time
bullet tampons won't stay in place
bullet vaginal or anal flatus (wind) when bending and lifting
bullet bulging felt at the vaginal opening (prolapse)
bullet difficulty emptying the bowel completely
bullet low pelvic dragging, vaginal heaviness, feeling everything might fall out
You Need Special Attention If You:
bullet are pregnant or a new mother
bullet are menopausal
bullet lift heavy objects often
bullet suffer from constipation
bullet are overweight
bullet cough frequently
bullet have low backache
bullet go to the toilet often to pass small amounts of urine
Benefits of Pelvic Floor Control

bullet active lifestyle without wet or soiled pants
bullet control of wind (flatus)
bullet firm vagina
bullet freedom from pelvic heaviness and dragging discomfort
bullet avoid repair surgery
bullet a sense of control!
You Can Help Yourself By:
bullet drinking two litres of fluid each day
bullet minimising coffee, tea and cola drinks
bullet staying within a healthy weight range
bullet seeking help for a chronic cough which makes your bladder problems worse
bullet avoiding straining with constipation
Don't put up with incontinence as though it's unavoidable - it's not!

Baby in arm

Women jogging
How Physiotherapists Can Help

Some physiotherapists have special training, skills and experience in continence management. They can help if you have incontinence, constipation or prolapse, or simply want to learn how to use your pelvic floor muscles correctly and safely. Many women are unable to use their pelvic floor muscles correctly unless they receive individual pelvic floor muscle testing and training - simply trying to tighten the muscles is not enough. It is also important to learn to use your abdominal muscles correctly while exercising the pelvic floor.

Physiotherapy teaches you how to:
bullet exercise your pelvic floor muscles correctly
bullet retrain weak pelvic floor muscles
bullet regain pelvic floor control while sneezing, coughing, laughing and lifting
bullet maintain pelvic floor control
Finding a Physiotherapist

A doctor's referral is not required to see a physiotherapist in private practice. Physiotherapists in private practice are listed in the Yellow Pages under 'Physiotherapists'. Physiotherapists also work in public hospitals and community health centres. Contact the Australian Physiotherapy Association in your state or territory for the names of physiotherapists in your area who have a special interest in the pelvic floor and continence management.

A proportion of treatment costs is rebatable under all higher table health insurance schemes.
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Move well. Stay well.
By courtesy of the Australian Physiotherapy Association