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5 Signs it's Time to See a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

You may or may not have heard of pelvic floor physical therapy. Who are they? What do they do? Do I need to see one? While I think EVERY WOMAN should go see one, here are 5 definite reasons that scheduling an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist is the right thing for you:

1) You are pregnant - you may have aches and pains during pregnancy, so there is no need to suck it up and suffer! Common physical ailments during pregnancy include but are not limited to: low back pain, pubic bone pain, and hip pain. If you are hurting, ask to see a physical therapist! Your therapist can help relieve the pain and find weaknesses so you can address them before you give birth.

You may not be hurting, but a visit with a pelvic floor PT during pregnancy is a great way to prepare for labor, delivery, and postpartum. A prenatal wellness check includes posture and strength analysis as well as education to help you feel comfortable and ready for the postpartum transition. Knowledge is power!

2) You had a baby - Congratulations and welcome to motherhood! Postpartum is an important time of healing and a physical therapist can help your recovery process. A pelvic floor physical therapist will educate you on proper scar care after perineal tearing or cesarean surgery, screen for diastasis recti, check your pelvic floor coordination and guide you with safe return to exercise. Addressing all of these important areas will help prevent problems from arising in the future!

3) You are experiencing leakage - leakage may be common, but it's NOT NORMAL. Incontinence can present in many ways. Urge incontinence is when you feel the urge to urinate but you leak because you cannot hold it to make it to the toilet in time. Stress incontinence occurs when you leak from a big pressure change: cough, sneeze, laugh, jump, exercise. Fecal incontinence can also occur, especially if there was a grade 4 tear with delivery. If you are experiencing leakage, talk to your doctor about a referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist.

4) You have pain with intercourse - pain with intercourse can be from a variety of reasons so a pelvic floor physical therapist can help identify the cause and help you become pain free. Scar tissue from perineal tearing can be a cause. Tension in the pelvic floor muscles can be a cause. Many things can be done to address the issue so make sure you tell your health care provider if you are experiencing pain with sex.

5) You had a female or abdominal surgery- anytime you have a surgery, your body needs special treatment for recovering fully and safely. Abdominal surgeries and female surgeries like hysterectomies or procedures to address prolapse and endometriosis can affect your core and pelvic floor strength. It's important to see a pelvic floor physical therapist after any abdominal or pelvic surgery. You would go to PT after a knee or shoulder surgery, so why not after a surgery that involves significant areas of your body's core stability system??

Most importantly, it's never too late to address any of the above concerns. The information that you gain from seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist is priceless. Common is not normal so if you are experiencing challenges that you want to address don't suffer in silence. Never accept blanket advice of "just do more kegels." Pelvic rehab is the answer so advocate for yourself or your friends and family and ask for a referral to see a pelvic floor physical therapist!

Dr. Stephanie Perez, Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist