Women’s Health: Don’t Be Embarrassed, You’re Not Alone!
DID YOU KNOW? Of the 25 million adult Americans suffering from conditions such as urinary incontinence, 75-80% of them are women. Often only about 50% of those women even report their symptoms. Many women mistakenly believe it is just a part of normal aging. We are here to tell you that it’s not!
For years, women have been living with symptoms of many common conditions. The National Institutes of Health estimates roughly one quarter of U.S. women are affected by Pelvic Floor Disorders and for many the disease goes untreated. In this article we will discuss Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, it’s symptoms, common misconceptions as well as ways to treat the condition. At Ferrell-Whited we make Women’s Health a priority, and so should you!
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Pelvic Floor Dysfunction refers to the inability to correctly tighten and relax the muscles of the pelvic floor. The Symptoms can lead to weakness or tightness in the pelvic floor, impairments of the sacroiliac joints, low back, tailbone/coccyx and hip joints.
The pelvic floor is made up of 3 layers of muscles in the floor of the pelvic area. These muscles form a sling that goes from the pubic bone to the tailbone and assists in supporting the organs of the pelvis and abdomen. These often “forgotten” muscles also help to control the bowel, bladder and sexual functions.
People who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction can sometimes contract these muscles rather than relax them. Because of this, they have difficulty releasing bowel movements, they can have incomplete bowel movements or they may leak urine or stool.
Most causes of pelvic floor dysfunction are unknown and are very difficult to diagnose. A few of the more common causes of PFD could be due to any of the following:
Pregnancy or child birth complications
Insidious onset trauma to the pubic area (bad fall, sexual abuse)
Misalignment of the pelvis, tailbone or spine
Result from surgery
Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction can range from mild to severe. Listed below are a few of the most common symptoms.
Leaking urine during a cough, sneeze or physical activity
A sudden onset urgency to urinate often with a trigger such as running your hands under water
Increased urinary frequency (mapping out where the nearest restroom is everywhere you go)
Pressure or pain in your bladder often with a feeling like your bladder is still full even after urinating
Slow or hesitate urinary stream
Pelvic organ prolapses of your bladder, uterus or rectum
Does what I EAT or DRINK have any IMPACT on my symptoms of urinary dysfunction?
YES! Many women who have problems with incontinence tend to shy away from drinking too much water as they think it will make their problems worse. In fact the opposite is true. Not drinking enough water can increase the concentration of your urine and in many cases make the symptoms worse. It does seem counterproductive however, drinking water can help flush your system, ridding your body of unnecessary irritants. It is also recommended that patients reduce or eliminate the amount of coffee or tea in their diet helping to lessen the affects of the symptoms on their body.
If I am SUFFERING from INCONTINENCE, doing KEGELS will definitely fix that, RIGHT?
WRONG! This is one of the most common misconceptions when dealing with incontinence. Many women have been taught that by doing their kegels, symptoms of incontinence will go away. The FACT is if you have tightened or shortened pelvic floor muscles ( which tends to occur when you do kegels regularly) this could actually make matters worse. By seeing a therapist, you will be evaluated to determine the best course of treatment unique to your needs and underlying conditions.
If I have had surgery or are planning to have surgery to address my pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic floor therapy WILL NOT be helpful for me?
INCORRECT! Physical therapists often work very closely with a patients surgeon to achieve the best results for their patients. Surgery is designed to correct an anatomical issue, but it is important to achieve full muscle control and functionality post surgery. This can be achieved through work with our physical therapists.
Once I have PFD, I am stuck dealing with symptoms forever?
INCORRECT! Studies have shown up to a 70% improvement in symptoms of urinary incontinence following the implementation of pelvic floor exercises.
Meghan Graf a Physical Therapist at Ferrell-Whited Physical Therapy Services in Medina, specializes in helping women with their Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. Meghan’s years of experience, keen observation and ability to really listen to her patients makes her hands on approach to Women’s Health highly effective. Her specialties include taking a complex set of factors and symptoms, addressing each of them accordingly while maintaining a high level of care and sensitivity. When talking with Meghan about her approach to treatment she had this to say; “When a patient comes to me for treatment the first thing she needs is Reassurance! Reassurance, that she is not alone and that someone will do everything they can to help.”
When a patient comes in, our therapists use a gentle approach to evaluating the alignment of the spine and pelvis. They will then check for tightness or weakness in the pelvic floor muscles without using a speculum and only within the comfort levels of the patient. In most cases they will incorporate a pelvic floor strengthening program tailored to the patient’s needs. In some instances they may need to work out some of the tightness in the pelvic floor with gentle trigger point releases and muscle massage. When asked how long a patient should expect to be in treatment, this was Meghan’s reply; “Obviously each case has its own factors, which can play a role in their treatment. However, a patient typically needs between 8 -10 visits but I have seen progress in patients after 1-2 visits.”
If you are tired of living with these embarrassing symptoms, give us a call at 330-952-1882. Schedule your appointment with Meghan, Jenni, or Heather and END THE NEEDLESS SUFFERING TODAY!!!