Purpose Statement

This blog is intended to educate women on issues that affect women. Although we are all healthcare professionals, we are not here to give medical advice. Rather we hope this will encourage women knowing that help is available and give them the courage to seek help.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pelvic Floor Anatomy and the Role of Physical Therapy

One of the first things I do when I sit down with someone in my office is talk about pelvic floor anatomy. You would be surprised how little most women know about what’s down there. In our future blogs we will talk a lot about problems that can occur in the pelvic floor so it is important that you understand what we are talking about when we refer to this area. So…here we go!

What is the pelvic floor? It is all the muscles, nerves and tissues that attach to the front, sides and back of the pelvis. There are 3 layers of muscles in the pelvic floor. These muscles have 5 functions:

1. Support- acts as a sling, or hammock, to hold up the organs such as the bladder and uterus as well as the vaginal and rectal walls.
2. Sphinteric- closes the openings of the urethra, vagina and rectum to prevent urinary and fecal incontinence. Yes ladies, we do have 3 holes down there!
3. Sexual- assists with orgasm and blood flow.
4. Stability- helps support the spine and hips.
5. Sump-pump- acts as a lymphatic pump to prevent congestion in the pelvis.

The muscles in the pelvic floor are voluntary muscles, meaning we control them consciously. There are 2 types of muscle fibers in the pelvic floor:

1. Fast twitch- “sprinters”- make up 30% of the muscle fibers.
2. Slow twitch- “marathoners”- make up 70% of the muscle fibers.

Are you holding that Kegel contraction when you exercise? If not, you are only exercising 30% of the muscle fibers. We will discuss more about how to do a correct Kegel contraction in a future blog.

This may all be a review for you or perhaps this is all new information. Either way, I hope you now have a better understanding of how God designed you and what is really going on “down there”. When things are going smoothly most people don’t give their pelvic floor muscles much attention but when there is a problem in the pelvic floor, it deserves some attention.

The focus of my practice is pelvic floor rehabilitation. Many people have never heard of physical therapy specifically for pelvic floor dysfunction. Some physical therapists have received specialized training in the treatment of conditions which affect the pelvic floor. Treatment is individually designed after a thorough evaluation. Some of the common conditions addressed by physical therapy are pelvic pain syndromes, urinary or fecal incontinence and vaginal pain syndromes. Some common treatment options include specialized exercises, internal and external manual techniques, biofeedback, bladder retraining and modalities for pain management.

If you feel pelvic floor physical therapy is something that might benefit you, talk to your doctor. You can also utilize the American Physical Therapy Association website link to find a women’s health physical therapist in your area