Benefits of Physical Therapy for the Pelvic Floor

April 24, 2021

By Gloria Lee & Jane Chevalier

What are Pelvic Floor muscles?

Pelvic Floor – it’s a buzz word you hear about during pregnancy…so what is it?

  • Set of muscles that run from the pubic bone in the front to the tailbone in the back, and from one sitting bone to the other, like a hammock (side to side)
  • It is a multilayered, dynamic structure that provides both active and passive support
  • Supports your womb, sexual organs, anus and bladder
  • You use your Pelvic Floor muscles during urination, sex, pregnancy and childbirth

How does the pelvic floor get impacted during pregnancy?

  • Throughout pregnancy, the weight and size of baby stretches out the Pelvic Floor muscles, and the pregnancy hormones soften them; weakening them throughout pregnancy
  • No matter the birth outcome (vaginal or cesarean), all mama’s Pelvic Floor muscles get impacted by pregnancy
  • A weakened Pelvic Floor makes it difficult to control urine function during and post pregnancy
  • Having a healthy Pelvic Floor makes it easier to bounce back from pregnancy

How does Physical Therapy improve Pelvic Floor health?

  • Strengthens and/or opens Pelvic Floor muscles in preparation for birth
  • Maintain Pelvic Floor health
  • Relieves discomfort, fatigue, and dysfunction
  • Prevent urinary symptoms during pregnancy and after

What to expect in Pelvic Floor Therapy:

  • A Physical Therapist (PT) conducts a Pelvic Floor exam
  • PT determines whether you need to contract or expand; not every Pelvic Floor is created equal (not every person’s Pelvic Floor needs Kegel exercises; your PT will determine this)
  • A tailored plan is created based on the state of your Pelvic Floor

Ready to start physical therapy? Check out The List for our recommendations.

References

Kahyaoglu Sut, H., & Balkanli Kaplan, P. (2016). “Effect of Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercise on Pelvic Floor Muscle Activity and Voiding Functions During Pregnancy and The Postpartum Period. Neurology and Urodynamics, 35(3), 417-422. 

Continence Foundation of Australia. “Pelvic Floor Muscles in Women”. Retrieved April 26, 2021, from https://www.continence.org.au/who-it-affects/women/female-pelvic-floor-muscles

Stoker, J., Halligan, S., & Bartram, C. I. (2001). “Pelvic Floor Imaging”. Radiology, 218(3), 621-641. https://doi.org/10.1148/radiology.218.3.r01mr26621

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