Physical Therapy and Pregnancy: Part 2 Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Pelvic floor dysfunction or disorders can occur before, during or after pregnancy. We most often hear about them after a baby has been born. We’ve all heard someone say “I pee when I sneeze” or “I have to cross my legs when I laugh- since I’ve had my kids.” Pelvic floor dysfunction actually refers to a variety of issues caused by the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles can be too tight or weak and can cause impairment or pain in the sacroiliac joints, hip joints, low back or coccyx (tailbone). Inability to hold urine or incontinence can also stem from pelvic floor dysfunction. It can cause pain with intercourse, vaginal exams or cervical checks during labor, and rectal pain.

The muscles of the pelvis act as a sort of supportive hammock for important organs like our bowels, bladder and uterus. Issues arise if that “hammock” is too relaxed or too tight. Both situations can cause very unique and different issues, so the solution for pelvic floor disorders isn’t one-size-fits-all. We are often told to do kegel exercises (tightening of the pelvic floor muscles in the same way you would stop a stream of urine), but this can cause problems if your specific issue is a tight pelvic floor rather than a weak one. New information is circulating and often confusing women, that tells us to do deep squats instead of kegel exercises. A lot of women are asking, should I be doing kegels or squats? If you don’t know what your unique problem is, it’s hard to know what therapies you should be doing.

There is still a stigma attached to sometimes embarrassing issues like leaking urine or pain with sex, so some women go years without getting help. The first step to healing is to tell your healthcare provider about your symptoms. They can refer you to a pelvic floor physical therapist (different from a physical therapist). A pelvic floor physical therapist can give you a specific diagnosis and from there build a therapy plan for you. There is relief for these problems and with the right therapies, they can often be healed.

Our local experts are the pelvic floor physical therapists at Integrated Physical Therapy in McKinney, Texas. Their therapists look at the whole body, interconnected systems and the specific problems and symptoms of each patient. They do manual therapy, biofeedback, exercise plans, home programs and core stabilization to really provide a comprehensive approach to healing pelvic floor disorders.