Women’s Health Physiotherapy
Women’s Health Physio
A woman’s body goes through many changes throughout her lifetime, from puberty, to pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum, to then menopause. Women’s Health Physiotherapy encompasses a variety of musculoskeletal conditions involving a change in the function of three close knit organs housed in the pelvis; the bladder; the bowels and the uterus. Hormones fluctuate during these different life stages with additional changes experienced in organ structure and function resulting in conditions such as:
- Incontinence (leakage) of the bladder or bowel:
1 in 3 women who have gone through childbirth will experience leakage. It is common during pregnancy, childbirth and menopause for the pelvic floor muscles to weaken, due to stretching of the muscles, hormonal changes and inactivity.
- Chronic pelvic pain and pelvic floor overactivity:
Pelvic floor overactivity can occur when the pelvic floor muscles are protecting an area due to a history of pelvic pain. For example, endometriosis and painful periods often result in overactivity of the pelvic floor and associated weakness.
- Low back or pelvic girdle pain associated with pregnancy:
Pain in the lower back is common during pregnancy due to a shift in the woman’s centre of gravity and a change in posture placing additional stress on the low back and pelvic girdle. This pain may worsen and radiate down the back of one or both legs. Hormonal changes also play a role in stretching the ligaments provoking pain around the joints of the low back and pelvis.
- Musculoskeletal conditions associated with pregnancy and postpartum often treated by physiotherapy includes; Rectus Abdominus Diastasis (tummy muscle separation); Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and De Quervain’s Tenosynovitis (wrist pain).
- Mastitis or inflammation of the breast tissue, can occur in the early stages of breast feeding due to engorgement or later stages due to a blocked milk duct.
- Osteoporosis or osteopenia:
A decrease in bone mineral density that can occur as a result of ageing and reduction in the hormone oestrogen. Approximately 25% of bone mass is lost in the first two years of menopause, three months after cessation of the final menstrual period and may continue for 5-10 years. Osteoporosis is prevalent in one third of postmenopausal women and causes an increased risk of fracture.
Physiotherapy for management of incontinence and prolapse is now the first line recommendation, before medication or surgery, as outlined by the International Consultation on Incontinence. At Enhance Physiotherapy, our Women’s Health Physiotherapist has expertise in managing and treating these women’s health conditions, including assessment and retraining of the pelvic floor muscles using a variety of techniques including vaginal examination and a non-invasive tool called a Real Time Ultrasound (see Service).
The pelvic floor is made up of layers of muscles and tissues that attach from the front of the pelvis at the pubic bone to the back at the tailbone. The pelvic floor has four main functions:
- To support the pelvic organs in place (bladder, bowel and uterus);
- To control the bladder and bowel function;
- To improve vaginal tone to maintain sexual enjoyment;
- To assist in breathing by working with the diaphragm and abdominal muscles.
They can become weak or dysfunctional due to pregnancy, perineal trauma, inactivity, constipation, lifting heavy weight, chronic coughing, gynaecological surgery, pain or ageing.
Possible signs of dysfunctional pelvic floor muscles include:
- Accidental leakage or incontinence
- Leakage with running or jumping
- Unable to make it to the toilet
- Uncontrollable urge to go to the toilet
- Frequency going to the toilet
- Difficulty emptying your bladder or bowel
- History of a prolapse
- Lack of sexual sensation
- Pain with sexual intercourse
Pelvic floor dysfunction can be easily addressed through retraining exercises, relaxation and mindfulness training and general exercise advice to restore the coordination, endurance and strength of the muscles. Our Women’s Health Physiotherapist is able to perform an internal examination to diagnose the cause of your pelvic floor muscle dysfunction and create an individualised pelvic floor program designed specifically to suit your needs and goals.
Your Enhance Physiotherapist or exercise physiologist can also tailor a general exercise program for you to address other areas of women’s health conditions such as:
- Pregnancy and Postpartum health and wellbeing
- Bone health during and post menopause
- Chronic pelvic pain or chronic lower back pain
- Specific programs for those undergoing cancer treatment
- Weight management or weight loss following pregnancy or menopause
Our remedial massage therapists also offer pregnancy massages specifically for the expectant mother.
Book online or call us to book your Enhance experience today.