Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
At Eastern Osteopathy Melbourne we are passionate about supporting women with pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic floor dysfunction can look different for every person, whether it be the inconspicuous crossing of the legs to sneeze, heading to the toilet just in case, or maybe you’re unable to enjoy intercourse with your partner due to pain and discomfort. Regardless of the symptoms, women tend to be embarrassed when talking about pelvic floor dysfunction. At Eastern Osteopathy Melbourne we believe the conversation regarding pelvic floor health needs to be open, sensitive and on the table.
The pelvic floor is made up of layers of muscle, ligament and fascia which stretch like a hammock from the tailbone, at the base of the spine, forward to the pubic bone.
Having little accidents every now and then (leakage) can be common, but is never normal. Even the smallest amount of leakage is an indicator that your pelvic floor is not functioning optimally. It is hard to predict exactly how many women suffer with PF issues and in particular, incontinence. However, recent studies suggest that up to 50% of women post childbirth and up to 60% of elite athletes suffer with some degree of incontinence.
Urinary incontinence may be the most obvious symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction; however, it can also involve, and is not limited to, the following symptoms.
Symptoms of a Dysfunctional Pelvic Floor can include:
Urine leakage of any amount when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running.
Urgency to urinate (with or without leakage).
Needing to get out of bed more than once a night to go to the toilet.
Not being able to hold in wind.
Tampons dislodging or falling out.
A distinct bulge at the vaginal opening .
A sensation of heaviness or dragging in the vagina.
Pain during intercourse.
Lower back pain, pelvic pain and sacroiliac joint pain can also be associated with pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.
Over a period of time Pelvic Floor Dysfunction can result in:
Inability to control passage of urine, and faeces.
Bladder, uterine or bowel prolapse (when lacking support, these organs can slip into the vagina and cause a deep, persistent vaginal ache).
The Pelvic Floor has many importantfunctions within our body, including:
Sphincter Control: Control of the openings of the urethra, vagina, and rectum, maintaining urinary and faecal continence.
Stability: Assisting in stabilizing your spine and pelvis.
Sexual Function: Orgasm, blood flow, and mobility.
Support: Providing support for the pelvic organs against gravity and intra-abdominal pressure; and tone for the vaginal and rectal walls.
Sump Pump: Acting as venous and lymphatic pump for the pelvis to help prevent pelvic congestion.
Respiration: Assisting in respiration.
Causes of a Weak or Dysfunctional Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor can be weakened in many ways, including:
Pregnancy and vaginal birth.
Chronic constipation and straining.
Hormonal changes associated with menopause.
A sedentary lifestyle.
Lots of heavy lifting.
Not using one’s breath, deep abdominal muscles and pelvic floor to maintain a healthy intra-abdominal pressure.
Tight Pelvic Floor vs Weak Pelvic Floor
Having a tight pelvic floor in comparison to a weak pelvic floor can be a complex issue. For many women, we are so concerned with strengthening our pelvic floor that sometimes we can forget to relax them properly.
A tight pelvic floor doesn’t mean a strong pelvic floor! A pelvic floor that is constantly engaged often doesn’t have the ability to increase its strength at times when we need it, like when, coughing, sneezing and lifting; in turn this creates further stress and strain on your pelvic floor.
Other than the aforementioned symptoms of a dysfunctional pelvic floor, an indicator of a tight pelvic floor can be pain during intercourse. If you have a tight pelvic floor, it is essential that you learn to relax it before you start the process of strengthening it.
Osteopathy for Pelvic Floor Health
As osteopaths we believe that structure and function are interrelated. When treating women’s health and pelvic floor dysfunction, we don’t just assess the pelvic floor; we look for any potential imbalances within the musculoskeletal system that may be impacting the function of your pelvic floor.
Dr. Kathryn Johns and Dr. Elizabeth Johns have completed further training in the assessment, retraining and rehabilitation of the pelvic floor, using both internal and external techniques.
They have also been trained in the use of a Real Time Ultrasound to diagnose pelvic floor and deep abdominal dysfunction. The RTU machine allows Kathryn and Elizabeth to assess your pelvic floor without the need for an internal assessment.
Kathryn and Elizabeth are passionate about providing the best possible care for their patients. Their focus is on ensuring that they provide a service that is caring and sensitive, whilst not compromising on the thoroughness of each patient’s assessment. Kathryn and Elizabeth then develop a unique and personalized management plan, not just kegal exercises.