Six questions to ponder about pelvic physical therapy

Maybe you don’t even know what pelvic physical therapy is. Maybe your physician has suggested it, but you’re too shy to learn more. Here is some information to help.

By IU Health Senior Journalist, T.J. Banes,

The patients range from women experiencing bladder and sexual issues after child birth or pregnancy, to men with pelvic pain and bladder leakage. Many patients are too embarrassed to talk openly about their issues with their physician.

Lauren Habig, IU Health Physical Therapist in Rehabilitation Services offers answers to some of the most important questions. Habig has been a physical therapist with IU Health for 10 years.

“I went into PT because I wanted an active job and I wanted to help promote healthy lifestyles and help people continue to live their daily lives without pain,” sad Habig. She also has an undergraduate degree in kinesiology and played high school sports, and was part of a downhill ski team in college.

Q: What is “Pelvic Floor Therapy?”
It’s a specialization of physical therapy that focuses on improving bladder, bowel, and sexual function. Pelvic floor physical therapy examines the pelvic floor – an area made up of muscles that support the bowel, bladder, and reproductive tracts. These muscles can be weak or tight similar to any other muscles of the body.

Q: What does a physical therapist do for pelvic pain?
Treatments are similar to physical therapy for any area of pain or dysfunction but we specialize in assessment and treatment of the pelvic floor muscles. Treatments consist of manual therapy, biofeedback, functional activities, and bowel and bladder training.

Q: What should patients expect on a first visit to physical therapy?
There is an initial evaluation consisting of a conversation focusing on functional impairments, bowel, bladder, and sexual health. A therapist may also want to know about your diet and exercise habits. If a patient is comfortable, the therapist may perform an internal exam of the pelvic floor muscles.

Q: How many physical therapy sessions are generally needed?
We typically see patients once a week but we individualize each plan. We will develop a plan consisting of home exercise, pain management and bladder and bowel training.

Q: What types of conditions would require pelvic physical therapy?
A: Some conditions include: Leaking urine, frequent urination, pain during sexual activity, pelvic pain, bowel incontinence or constipation, post prostate, pelvic or abdominal surgery.

Q: Are most of the patients women?
A: We do see a lot of women who experience issues related to pelvic floor dysfunction, but we see all genders ranging from teenagers to older adults.