Women’s health encompasses a wide variety of physical conditions that can affect females of all ages throughout different stages of their lives. Up to a third of all women experience pregnancy related musculoskeletal conditions and pelvic floor dysfunction during their lifetimes. However, women who have never been pregnant or delivered a baby can also experience pelvic girdle and pelvic floor dysfunction.
Women’s Health Physiotherapy is an specialist area of Physiotherapy that involves the assessment and non-surgical treatment of the pelvic floor, and the therapeutic care of women in all stages of their pregnancy as well as post-natally. The ability to access, treat and manage patients with symptoms associated with pregnancy, delivery and caring for a new born baby can be life changing, and can positively affect overall wellness.
Additionally, Women’s Health Physiotherapy can help women who have pelvic girdle pain that relates to altered function of their pelvic floor, for reasons unrelated to pregnancy and delivery. Often these are active individuals who, for one reason or another, are using their pelvic floor muscles incorrectly which causes pain and altered function. They too respond very well to specific, focused treatment by a clinician who understands these problems and knows what to look for.
At Pure Sports Medicine, our women’s health services can help with several issues, including:
Across our clinics we offer assessments and treatments including:
Through a thorough subjective history and physical examination, physiotherapy can diagnosis and identify the specific structures involved, and help women return to their desired activities, pain and embarrassment free.
Many women in their childbearing years are often bombarded with misinformation surrounding the safety of exercise during and post pregnancy. In most cases, if the mother and baby are healthy, regular moderate exercise can benefit both. Women’s health Physiotherapists can help guide women to achieve her fitness goals safely through education and close monitoring.
There is also strong evidence to support exercise after the baby is born. Women who engage in regular exercise have a decreased chance of developing post-natal depression, and other common ailments, such as lower back pain. The hormone relaxin can continue to affect joints for up to 6 months post birth, therefore return to exercise should be gradual and stress relieving, with the avoidance of high impact exercise in the immediate aftermath.
With so many biological changes, a woman’s body is wonderous and almost magical. Therefore, specialist care is required. Pilates can be an excellent choice of physical activity for post-natal women and over our seven London-based clinics, Pure Sports Medicine offers 1:1 Pilates sessions with a highly trained and experienced instructor. For exercise to be performed safely it is important to understand pelvic anatomy and the changes that happens to the body during and immediately after pregnancy.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that make the base of the torso and help to keep the pelvic organs (the bladder, uterus and bowel) positioned correctly and functioning optimally. These muscles and their ligaments support the pelvic organs when intra-abdominal pressure increases with activities such as lifting and carrying, and during exercises like running and jumping.
Leakage can also occur with laughing, coughing and sneezing. This can be quite embarrassing! When the pelvic floor is working well it helps to keep the bowel or bladder from leaking, and when it is weak or damaged incontinence can occur.
It is often assumed that leakage occurs because the pelvic floor muscles are weak, but in many cases, some elements of the pelvic floor are overactive and in spasm. This is often the cause of pelvic girdle pain and dysfunction, including sexual dysfunction. It is for this reason that an internal pelvic floor examination is a key element of a comprehensive assessment — to determine how the whole pelvic floor is functioning, which components are weak and under-active and which elements are working too hard, and are tight, in spasm.
Incontinence is when urine or faecal matter leak out involuntary. The most common cause of pelvic floor dysfunction is pregnancy and birth, due to the pressure of carrying a baby and the potential trauma of vaginal births. However, it can also result from strenuous high impact exercise, for example gymnastics or sports that involve jumping, heavy or repeated lifting, and even from chronic constipation.
Women’s Health conditions are often suffered in silence, but with the right assessment, treatment and education many can be managed conservatively with huge impacts on wellbeing and quality of life.
A detailed history of symptoms and an internal physical examination from a women’s health Physiotherapist will allow for a correct diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plan.
If you, or someone you know, experiences any of the above symptoms seeking help from a trained professional can help improve your or their quality of life. Women do not need to live with this embarrassing plight that is often shrugged off as the consequences of bringing new life in to this world. In the age of women’s empowerment, let it also include physical empowerment too.