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Pelvic Floor: What You Need to Know
The pelvic floor is a sling of muscles that support and lift the internal abdominal and pelvic organs. The muscles contribute to control of when we hold or release the contents of our bladder or bowels.
The University of Vermont Medical Center Continence Center and the Orthopedic Specialty Center offer pelvic floor physical therapy.
Are you experiencing problems with leaking, pelvic floor pain or discomfort, or constipation?
If so we encourage you to speak with your primary care provider or call one of our pelvic floor physical therapists. They may recommend that you see a specialist for further testing or may determine that physical therapy is the first step to treating your problem.
Where is Pelvic floor physical therapy offered?
Pelvic floor PT is offered at The University of Vermont Medical Center Continence Center on the Fanny Allen Campus as well as at the Orthopedic Specialty Center on Tilley Drive in South Burlington. To make an appointment or to speak with one of our pelvic floor therapists call the Orthopedic Specialty Center at 802- 847-7910, or the Continence Center at 802-847-5800.
How can Physical Therapy help?
Physical Therapists are experts on the function of muscles in the body. The function of your pelvic floor involves good function of muscles as well as your nervous system, which controls those muscles.
The physical therapist will:
- Assess how well your muscles are functioning while looking for weakness, or overactivity of the pelvic floor muscles, your fluid intake, activity level, and bowel and bladder habits.
- Teach you exercises
- Assess and make recommendations about the types and amounts of fluid you take in
- Educate you about how your bowel and bladder systems work and how you can gain more control.
Other tools that the therapist may use include:
- Biofeedback to help you to know how to contract and relax these muscles
- Electrical stimulation for pain or muscle activation
- Manual therapy to help you to relax muscles that are overworking.
Where exactly is my pelvic floor?
Think of your pelvic floor as a hammock — a sling of muscles that sit at your perineum (the part of your body that touches the seat when you sit on a bicycle).
These muscles support and lift the internal abdominal and pelvic organs, and give us control of when we hold or release the contents of our bladder or bowels. When the pelvic floor is healthy and strong, the muscles do these jobs well. When they are weak, however, the result can be loss of bladder or bowel control resulting in leaking, discomfort due to internal organs pushing downward on sensitive tissues, or diminished sexual function.
If these muscles become overworked or spasm the results can include pain, constipation and painful, or diminished sexual function.
Who typically has pelvic floor problems?
Despite the fact that this is an area of the body that we don't typically talk about, problems with the pelvic floor are extremely common. Consider that:
- 25-30 percent of adults between the age of 25 and 55 experience bowel or bladder problems at some time.
- 15 percent of women aged 18-50 have pain in this area.
- Although it should not be considered a normal part of aging, up to 35 percent of people 60 years of age and older are incontinent.
What contributes to pelvic floor problems?
Factors which may contribute to problems with pelvic floor function include:
- Female gender
- Surgeries – such as abdominal or prostate surgery, or other medical treatments such as radiation therapy in the area.
What is a positive next step in overcoming this problem?
We recommend speaking with your Primary Care provider or one of our physical therapist to see if Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy makes sense for your body. Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy is offered at The UVM Medical Center's Continence Center as well as at the Orthopedic Specialty Center. To make an appointment Call: