Pelvic floor dysfunction is heavily under-reported as so many people don’t feel comfortable speaking up about it. Many people find talking about pelvic health to be a difficult conversation to bring up.
Pelvic floor disorders can have a significant impact, not only on the physical aspect of a person, but also the mental, emotional, social, and overall well being of an individual. Canadian statistics have indicated 25-50% of all women will develop some degree of pelvic floor support issue in their lifetime and 10% of the Canadian population are living with some form of urinary incontinence (Canadian Continence Foundation, 2020). Pelvic floor dysfunction is not limited to women. Statistics show that 10% of men; that is over 3.5 million Canadian men suffer from some form of urinary incontinence and up to 10% of men will develop some form of pelvic pain in their lifetime.
Physiotherapists and other healthcare professionals play an important role in helping individuals understand and manage their pelvic floor condition.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a specialized branch of physiotherapy that involves the rehabilitation of the pelvic floor muscles. The goal of pelvic floor physiotherapy is to improve and restore pelvic floor function through exercise, lifestyle modifications, education and hands-on treatment to decrease and eliminate unwanted symptoms.
The pelvic floor muscles are located between the tailbone (coccyx) and the pubic bone within the pelvis. They support the bowel and bladder (as well as uterus and vagina in females). These muscles, when working optimally, help prevent incontinence of bladder, bowel and prolapse. The pelvic floor muscles are also a major player in sexual function.
The pelvic floor is also comprised of nerves, blood vessels, ligaments and tendons and they all serve a purpose to ensure good bowel, bladder and sexual health.
The pelvic floor can be affected by pregnancy, childbirth, prostate cancer treatment, obesity and straining with chronic constipation to name a few.
Like any other muscle in the body, the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding structures can be dysfunctional. We often do not even pay attention to our pelvic floor muscles until something goes sideways!