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46A Angove Street
North Perth
WA 6006
Ph: 08 9328 8389
Fax: 08 9328 8083
Mon - Thu 8am - 7pm
Fri 8am - 6pm
Sat 8am - 2pm
Sun Closed
North Perth Physio

Women's Health

Women’s health physiotherapy is a therapeutic treatment for a number of women’s health problems such as pelvic floor weakness and continence problems, pelvic organ prolapse, ante-natal and post-natal pelvic difficulties.

The women’s health physiotherapy service at North Perth Physiotherapy is tailored to your specific needs, the positive outcome of which can be life changing, whether that includes taking control of your bladder symptoms, reducing prolapse symptoms, returning to higher level exercise or relieving your pain.

Women’s Health Physiotherapy?

Our women’s health and continence physiotherapy service involves the provision of specialised assessment and treatment of gender related and lifespan health issues, including pregnancy related pain, postnatal difficulties and sexual and reproductive health concerns. There is growing evidence that physiotherapy can alleviate and in many cases cure these symptoms. Treatment is provided by our experienced staff ensuring quality and personalised care.

Who should see a Women's Health physiotherapist?

Any woman who suffers from any of the following conditions:

  • Bladder leakage
  • Overactive bladder
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty emptying the bowel or bladder
  • Bowel or bladder urgency
  • Assessment and management of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
  • Sexual dysfunction and painful intercourse
  • Vaginal and pelvic pain
  • Vulvodynia and vaginismus
  • Ongoing care throughout the pregnancy
  • Treatment of blocked breast ducts and mastitis
  • Assessment and rehabilitation of the pelvic floor and abdominal muscles postpartum

We also design fitness and exercise programs for:

  • Pregnancy
  • Recovery after childbirth
  • Post gynaecolgical surgery
  • Pre and post prostatectomy

If you struggle or have concerns with any of these problems, then Women’s Health Physiotherapy can help you.

What can I expect at my first appointment?

Your assessment and treatment will depend upon your presenting condition. We will start with taking a confidential and detailed history of your health and general wellbeing followed by asking specific questions that relate to your condition or concern.

During the assessment we may ask personal questions about your bladder and bowel control, lower back/pelvic pain, sexual history and other questions related to general wellbeing. Whilst these sensitive issues are often difficult to discuss, understanding the onset and extent of your symptoms and how your daily life is affected is essential in determining your treatment.

Dependent on your presentation, the physiotherapist may assess your lumbar spine, abdominal and pelvic area. Assessment of the pelvic floor muscles can be performed externally via abdominal real time ultrasound assessment or if appropriate and requested by the patient an internal assessment can be performed. This provides detailed information relevant to pelvic floor muscle tone, strength, endurance, proprioception and absence or presence of a prolapse. Assessment and treatment can be modified or ceased at any point if you are feeling uncomfortable. A management and/or treatment plan with an individualised home program will be discussed with you after your assessment.

Don’t suffer in silence! If you have a women’s health problem, now’s the time to do something about it.

To make an appointment call our reception staff on 08 9328 8389 or email info@northperthphysio.com.au. Be sure to request our women’s health physiotherapist.


Pelvic Floor Muscles

You are not alone. One in three women in Australia is affected by a Pelvic Floor Disorder (PFD). While PFDs such as urinary/bowel incontinence, pelvic pain and pelvic organ prolapse are common, they are not a normal or acceptable part of aging. In fact, they can often be reversed and effectively treated with painless, low-cost treatments options.

Many women don’t realise that they can improve their pelvic floor muscles with exercises to manage and overcome a range of issues such as prolapse, bladder or bowel leakage and even constipation. These pelvic floor exercises are designed to improve muscle tone and prevent the need for corrective surgery.

What are pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor is a sling of flat muscles that attach to the pubic bone at the front and to the tail bone at the back. These muscles form the floor of the pelvis, that is why it is called the ‘pelvic floor’.

Weakened pelvic floor muscles mean the internal organs are not fully supported and you may have difficulty controlling the release of urine, faeces or even wind.

The diagram below shows the pelvic organs and pelvic floor muscles in women.

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The pelvic floor muscles are often described as a hammock lifting and supporting the pelvic organs that lie above. These muscles need to be able to contract to keep us continent, but also they must relax to allow for urination, bowel movements, child birth and sexual intercourse.

Problems with the pelvic floor can occur when these muscles are too weak (hypotonic) or too tight (hypertonic). It is also possible for these muscles to combine a pattern of too much tension in some areas while too relaxed in others!

Although the pelvic floor is hidden from view, it can be consciously controlled and therefore trained, much like our arm, leg or abdominal muscles.

Why our pelvic floor weakens.

There are many everyday events and activities that cause pelvic floor weakness. They do this by reducing the integrity of our pelvic floor muscle, increasing pelvic floor strain or reducing its nerve supply. Some of these risk factors cannot be changed.

Those risk factors that cannot be changed:

  • Pregnancy
  • Vaginal birth
  • Menopause
  • Aging

There are some risk factors that can be changed or avoided:

  • Constipation (straining while on the toilet)
  • Smoking and chronic coughing
  • Heavy lifting
  • Obesity
  • Excessive high impact exercise

For some people the muscles can become too tight. This is a less common but very distressing problem, especially for women. The causes are often complex and professional help is required to resolve the problem.

In almost all cases it is possible to gain control over the pelvic floor muscles and to train them to do their job well.

What are the symptoms of pelvic floor weakness?

Having a weak pelvic floor can lead to a variety of problems including urinary (leaking wee when you cough, sneeze, laugh or exercise) and fecal incontinence because you can no longer squeeze the muscles and the sphincters at the bottom of your bladder. This kind of stress incontinence affects up to a third of new mums. Many women also complain of finding sex less satisfying, because of less sensitivity in the vagina. Vaginal prolapse is also common where there is a feeling of a bulge or like something is ‘coming down’ inside your vagina.

Having a weak pelvic floor does not mean that you will have symptoms to begin with. The body may find ways to compensate for pelvic floor weakness, however as we age, this becomes less effective.

Where are our pelvic floor muscles?

The first thing to do is to find out which muscles you need to train.

  • Sit or lie down with the muscles of your thighs, buttocks and stomach relaxed.
  • Squeeze the ring of muscle around the back passage as if you are trying to stop passing wind. Now relax this muscle. Squeeze and let go a couple of times until you are sure you have found the right muscles. Try not to squeeze your buttocks.
  • When sitting on the toilet to empty your bladder, try to stop the stream of urine, then start it again. Do this to learn which muscles are the right ones to use – but only once a week. Your bladder may not empty the way it should if you stop and start your stream more often than that and has the potential risk of leading to bladder and urinary tract infections.

These exercises should not feel uncomfortable, though if you do feel discomfort, you should see your doctor.

Getting the technique right is the most important part of the pelvic floor muscle exercises.

Exercising pelvic floor muscles.

Exercising them should not show at all ‘on the outside’. You should not pull in your tummy excessively, squeeze your legs together, tighten your buttocks or hold your breath!

Now you can find your pelvic floor muscles, here are the exercises to do:

  • Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your back passage and your vagina at the same time. Lift them UP inside. You should have a sense of “lift” each time you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Try to hold them strong and tight as you count to 8. Now, let them go and relax. You should have a distinct feeling of “letting go”.
  • Repeat “squeeze and lift” and let go. It is best to rest for about 8 seconds in between each lift up of the muscles. If you can’t hold for 8, just hold for as long as you can.
  • Repeat this “squeeze and lift” as many times as you can, up to a limit of 8 to 12 squeezes.
  • Try to do three sets of 8 to 12 squeezes each, with a rest in between.

Tips to help you.

Try:

  • Get into the habit of doing your exercises during normal day to day activities. For example, whilst cleaning your teeth or waiting for a kettle to boil.
  • If you are unsure that you are exercising the right muscles, put your thumb into the vagina and try the exercises to check. You should feel a gentle squeeze as the pelvic floor muscle contracts.
  • Tighten your pelvic floor muscles when you feel you might be about to leak - pull up the muscles before you cough, laugh, sneeze or lift anything heavy. Your control will gradually improve.
  • Drink normally - about 6-8 large glasses of fluid a day, avoiding caffeine if you can. Water is best! And don’t get into the habit of going to the toilet ‘just in case’. Go only when you feel your bladder if full.
  • Watch your weight - extra weight puts extra strain on your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Once you have regained control of your bladder, don’t forget your pelvic floor muscles. Continue to do your pelvic floor exercises a few times each day to ensure that the problem does not come back.

Remember: you can exercise your pelvic floor muscles wherever you are - nobody will know what you are doing!

Myth Buster - Men do not suffer from incontinence.

Males and females both have a pelvic floor. Men can and do suffer from incontinence, however they are at less risk as their pelvic floors are not subjected to pregnancy, childbirth or menopause, however they are not immune to the avoidable risk factors (see list above).

Help is available.

If you think you are suffering from a pelvic floor disorder, please seek help right away!

North Perth Physiotherapy women's health physiotherapists specialise in pelvic floor muscle exercises. They can assess your pelvic floor function and tailor an exercise program to meet your specific needs. They can also prescribe other treatment options such as biofeedback and discuss relevant lifestyle factors with you.

Become empowered by knowing there is help!

Please Contact Us for more info

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