The other day I was speaking with a friend who has chronic constipation. When she asked me for advice I suggested pelvic floor therapy. She said that she was already doing it, and so I asked, “where do you go?” and she replied, “I do it at home. I found out about it on the internet and now I do kegels.” While this is a fantastic start to getting in touch with some of the pelvic floor muscles, what I was referring to is a medical treatment from a physical therapist.
Pelvic floor therapy is a treatment provided by a licensed physical therapist trained to treat pelvic floor dysfunction. This therapy may include stretching and or strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles as well as those of the hip, low back, thighs, and more. Typically this is a hands-on, or manual therapy. It may involve working vaginally or rectally.
I have a severe scar from an episiotomy that has caused me pain over the years. My boys were born in the late 1990s and over the past decades, I had still been suffering from discomfort due to the episiotomy. Strangely, a midwife gave me this during an otherwise natural, totally un-medicated childbirth. I still don't understand why, and would have preferred not to have it. It took a long time to heal and caused me severe post-partum pain for months. I never spoke about it with anyone, thinking it was normal that it hurt to sit down for a year after my son was born. It especially hurt when I was sitting and nursing.
Because pelvic floor injuries also occur in men, thankfully pelvic floor therapy is also available for men. I cannot speak from personal experience, obviously, but the practice I go to in Boulder says that 35% of their patients are male.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is often a component of the following medical issues:
I go to a practice here in Boulder called Pelvic Therapy Specialists. They take most forms of insurance which I think is amazing. The experience is lovely from the moment you call them on the phone. Pelvic floor therapy takes place in such a vulnerable part of the body that I would only recommend going to a place where all of the employees are incredibly pleasant, personable, and thoughtful.
Several years ago, I went a pelvic floor therapy practice where the receptionist was not a happy person. I felt crushed every time I called and set up an appointment over the phone. I also brought a friend with me to each appointment just to have someone to keep me company and to act as a buffer in dealing with the animosity that emanated from behind the front desk. This was not a good long term arrangement and required way too much effort on my part.
Although we have little power in this odd health care system, I do my best to avoid practices with negative gate keepers. When I do encounter an efficient, pleasant person who answers the phone at one of my physician's offices, I am sure to let the doctor know how grateful I am for that person. When we're sick or in pain there's no need for nasty bureaucrats to pile it on and further distress us.
If you have any of the issues listed above it may be worth consulting with a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor treatment.