WHAT IS PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION? Pelvic floor issues are referred to as Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD). In women these include: -Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)*
-Sexual dysfunction: this can include pain during sex or inability to climax, for example.
-A combination of the above.
PFD is more commonly experienced:
-During and after pregnancy.
-If you are very overweight.
-During and after menopause.
-After a period of constipation or if constipation persists. *POP is a condition in which one (or more) of the pelvic organs are no longer supported and so they drop and lose their anatomical position. Some of the most common symptoms of POP are heaviness or bulging through the vagina. **There are several types of urinary incontinence, the most common are:
-Stress incontinence: involuntary leaking when we apply pressure on our bladder (by coughing, sneezing, laughing, running or lifting something heavy, for example). -Urge incontinence: involuntary leaking when we experience a sudden and intense urge to urinate.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP:
If you are experiencing any of the issues mentioned above, you should contact a Women’s Health Physiotherapist to book a consultation. Women’s Health Physiotherapists can do an internal assessment of your pelvic floor and can also help you with a treatment plan and exercise programme to help you recover. We can also refer you to a medical specialist if we feel you need to have further investigations or tests.
HOW TO EXERCISE SAFELY DURING PREGNANCY AND THE POST-NATAL PERIOD: If you are pregnant or post-natal, I always recommend to seek the advice from a Women’s Health specialist and ideally I would try to join a specific pre-natal or post-natal class and/or exercise with a professional who has undergone some form of Women’s Health training - if not a Women’s Health Physiotherapist, a Women’s Personal Trainer, for example. If you are pregnant, you can join a pre-natal class from any stage of the pregnancy, as long as there are no medical contraindications for you to exercise. As already mentioned, the sooner you strengthen your pelvic floor, the better! In terms of general exercise, from week 20, some impact activities and exercises will need to be modified (such as planks, glute bridges and abdominal sit ups).
If you are post-natal, you can return to exercise after 6 to 8 weeks of giving birth, always with prior medical consent. This also applies if you have undergone a C-section, as long as the scar has healed completely. Basic pelvic floor exercises can restart much sooner, after a few days of giving birth. Before you return to exercise, I always recommend to have your abdominal wall checked for diastasis recti, and if you are experiencing any POP or incontinence symptoms, such as heaviness in the vagina or leaking, avoid doing any impact activities (running, jumping, aerobics or similar) and contact a Women’s Health Physiotherapist. I would also recommend to have an initial assessment before joining an exercise group class. For my post-natal classes for example, I always ask my clients to do an initial consultation before joining the class. For my pre-natal classes, I do not make it mandatory to do an initial consultation, however, I make sure I have enough information before someone new joins the class: how many weeks pregnant they are, if it is their first pregnancy (if not – how long ago was the previous pregnancy/s + info about the delivery/s), what is their medical history, exercise background and if there are any concerns or issues. Remember that exercise during pregnancy and the post-natal period is greatly beneficial for the body, but always make sure you are under the right care and working with the right professional! About the Author:
Chartered Women’s Health & Sports Physiotherapist Certified Pilates, Yoga & Hypopressives Instructor IG: @maria_maxifisio YouTube Channel: https://bit.ly/MaxifisioYouTube M: +34 644 93 42 30
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