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Pelvic Floor Therapy: What is it and How it Can Help

How Can Something So Small Be So Important? Most People Know About The Muscles In Their Arms And Legs, But Their Pelvic Floor Muscles Might Not Be As Familiar.

How can something so small be so important? Most people know about the muscles in their arms and legs, but their pelvic floor muscles might not be as familiar. But if you’re having problems with incontinence, sex, or bladder control, you may want to talk to your doctor about getting a pelvic floor evaluation.

What exactly is pelvic floor therapy?

Pelvic floor physical therapy sounds very, very specific, so at first glance, you might not think of it as something you need. In reality, though, it’s not just one specific kind of treatment. It’s an entire field that focuses on strengthening and healing the muscles around your pelvic region. In fact, it’s actually called the pelvic floor specialty, because these muscles play such an important role in healthy functioning and the health of your organs. Pelvic floor therapists are specially trained to help with these issues and more.

Simply put, pelvic floor therapy involves the assessment and treatment of problems associated with the pelvic floor muscles and pelvic organs, including the uterus, bladder, rectum, or bowel. Treatments can include manual therapy, biofeedback therapy, pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT), electrical stimulation, and more.

PFMT techniques can treat a wide range of conditions. Some of these include pelvic organ prolapse, stress urinary incontinence (SUI), fecal incontinence (FI), chronic constipation, and pelvic pain.

Benefits Of Pelvic Floor Therapy

Pelvic floor therapy helps with a variety of both women’s and men’s health issues. All sexes can experience pelvic floor disorders, incontinence, and pelvic floor dysfunction. By working with a physical therapist, patients can learn how to properly contract and release their pelvic muscles. This can lead to improved bowel and bladder control, as well as reduced pain during intercourse. As a result, patients may also see an improvement in sexual function and overall quality of life.

Signs And Symptoms You May Need Pelvic Floor Therapy

Many people don’t understand what pelvic floor therapy is, or are aware of which issues it can address. However, there are a range of common physical issues that PFMT can address. These include:

  • Pain in your pelvic region
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Pelvic floor prolapse
  • Incontinence
  • Weak or damaged connective tissue
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Post-pelvic surgery support
  • Endometriosis
  • Post-radiation

Some people are unaware they even have pelvic floor dysfunction until they start feeling the effects. It’s very important to take care of your pelvic region as soon as possible because having disorders in this area can affect other parts of the body, including the uterus, bladder, rectum, and bowel. Not only does it affect you physically, but mentally too. Chronic pain and incontinence can cause stress, shame, and anxiety. If you’re experiencing any of these issues, it’s essential to talk to your doctor to see if pelvic floor therapy could help.

Is pelvic floor therapy covered by insurance?

Technically, yes — treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction is covered by insurance. However, the coverage provided isn’t always straightforward. Some insurers require a referral, or cap coverage at a certain amount. It may also be difficult to find providers that will accept insurance. The reimbursement rate offered by many insurers is sometimes low enough to impact quality of care.

If you want to pursue pelvic floor therapy, seeking an alternative to traditional insurance is often a good idea. Many excellent providers are willing to accept fee-for-service payments. To keep costs predictable and affordable, you may want to consider a specialist that offers a direct care model. This payment arrangement offers predictable costs, with transparent, upfront, and reasonable pricing.

Finding The Right Provider

If you think you might need pelvic floor therapy, the first step is to consult with your doctor. They can help determine if pelvic floor therapy is right for you and, if so, refer you to a provider. When choosing a provider, be sure to ask about their experience treating patients with conditions similar to yours. You should also feel comfortable communicating openly and asking your doctor questions about sensitive topics. Once you’ve found the right provider, they will work with you to create a treatment plan that meets your needs.

What to expect in PMFT

In your first pelvic therapy appointment, your therapist will ask about your symptoms and medical history. Sometimes, the first visit is simply a conversation. After the initial conversation (whether in the first or second visit) your practitioner will then do a physical, internal exam. Once this has been completed, they will be able to develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs. This may include exercises, manual therapy, electrical stimulation, or biofeedback.

There’s a strong chance your therapist will recommend pelvic floor exercises. As part of your treatment, they will also teach you how to do the exercises at home so you can continue to improve on your own. Some people find these exercises uncomfortable at first, but they usually get better with time.

It’s common for people who have difficulty with penetration to experience some discomfort after their session due to the increased awareness of their pelvic muscles. But just like in any other form of physical therapy, this should eventually ease up as you develop strength. A lot of clients report that sex feels different and more pleasurable when doing them consistently.

The best way to tell whether pelvic floor physical therapy would help is by talking with your doctor. Ask them questions about your next steps and what you can do. If you are interested in receiving pelvic floor physical therapy, talk to your primary care physician, gynecologist, or urologist. They can help you determine which treatments are best for you depending on your individual needs.

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Lisa Parsons, DO.

While we hope you’ve found this helpful, we can’t give you any medical advice without knowing your situation. Please reach out to a healthcare provider if you have specific questions or concerns. Nothing on this site is intended to diagnose or treat any illness, and no statement is intended or should be construed as medical or legal advice. Please utilize your best judgement and the support of your doctor when making any decisions about your health.