Getting To Know Your Pelvic Floor
We are pleased to present a guest blog by Melissa VanKampen, PTA. Melissa has been working in the field of physical therapy for 18 years with the last 8 focusing on pelvic health in particular. She works for Northern Physical Therapy in Coopersville, MI. though Northern has six locations with several of them offering pelvic health therapy. If you have any questions or concerns regarding YOUR pelvic health please feel free to contact Melissa at melissavankampen at http://www.northernpts.com or 616.997.6172.
We have all heard the term “pelvic floor” especially in the last 5 years, everyone from Good Housekeeping to Cosmo has an opinion on what to do with it, what it should look like and what is “normal”. Most women don’t find it an easy subject to address even with friends let alone their health professional. When they do muster the courage to bring it up, they are told it is normal or it is just something they have to live with. So let’s find out what your pelvic floor really is and does for you.
What is your pelvic floor? It is a group of muscles that connect from your tailbone to your pubic bone with many fascial attachments. It has 3 muscle layers that have distinct functions and plays a role in everything you do throughout a day.
The pelvic floor has 3 basic functions:
Organ support: It is the bottom end of the canister that forms your “core” with your diaphragm being the top and the abdominals forming the body of the can. These muscles working together keep your intestines, bladder, and uterus where they should be in your body. Symptoms of heaviness, pressure , aching in your pelvis, or the feeling that something is “falling out” signal that those muscle may not be working as well as they should be.
Continence: If you are leaking urine at times or in places that you don’t want to be, you probably have some form of INcontinence. This is not a normal process of aging or childbirth. You may also experience fecal incontinence. This is often because the muscles are not strong enough to hold against gravity or they may be experiencing another kind of dysfunction. Other signs of dysfunction are the feeling of having to urinate all the time, or not feeling that you empty your bladder when you go.
Sexual appreciation: the ability to experience arousal, intercourse and orgasm. Pain with intercourse is a sign that the pelvic floor muscles may be spasmed or you may have some scar tissue from a surgical procedure.
All of these functions can be affected by diet, lifestyle, childbirth, surgical procedures, hormonal changes, disease processes , or biomechanical dysfunctions. A trained pelvic therapist will go through a thorough history to determine what the cause of your symptoms may be. They will then develop a custom treatment to restore balance back to your body. That is why it is so important to begin a conversation with a health care professional such as your doctor or pelvic health trained physical therapist to address how they can help you with your specific needs. Trust your instincts, you know what is “right” for your body.