The health of the pelvis is crucial to every woman. It is uniquely designed for the potential roles of child-bearing and delivery of babies. Females go through a variety of gynecologic and structural changes throughout life, from pre-puberty through puberty, preconception, pregnancy, motherhood, menopause and beyond. They may encounter various kinds of women’s health issues at different life stages because of pregnancy, childbirth, sports injury, repetitive strains, trauma or surgery. As a result the pelvic floor becomes dysfunctional.
In normal situations, the muscles in the pelvic floor act similar to a hammock sling. They need to contract to support the pelvic organs, provide a stable core for the spine to act on, and to bear the weight of the fetus in pregnant women. At the same time, they need to relax to allow for urination, bowel movements and childbirth. Pelvic balance is extremely important for a pregnant woman because the pelvic muscles support and protect the uterus and the growing baby, along with the on-going hormonal changes and the increase in body weight within a short (ten-month) period.
Tight and overactive pelvic floor muscles increase the pressure in the pelvic cavity, which can lead to problems such as constipation, bowel and bladder dysfunction including the feeling of incomplete bladder or bowel emptying, pain during or after intercourse. Inflammation and scar tissues in the abdomen or pelvis will further restrict the freedom of tissue movements and exacerbate the signs and symptoms.
On the other hand, if the pelvic floor muscles are weak, it becomes less effective at supporting the internal organs including the bladder, large intestine and uterus. Therefore it is likely to give rise to symptoms such as urinary or bowel incontinence, urgency and pelvic organ prolapse. You may notice leaking small amounts of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running.
If the pelvis is out of alignment, women may feel pain in the pelvis or lower back regions, sometimes even radiating pain to the upper thighs and perineum in more serious cases. Pain at the pubic symphysis will also limit your mobility and you may experience difficulty in climbing stairs, getting up from a chair, sitting down or standing on one leg. These discomforts are likely to get worse during pregnancy.
These pelvic issues take a while to develop. Early detection and treatment is the key. Whether you have a single symptom or a combination of the above conditions, physiotherapy can help to improve pelvic floor function and alleviate your symptoms through spinal realignment, therapeutic exercises, lifestyle modifications and education. Manual adjustments to other associated body parts, scar tissues releases and myofascial release of the connective tissue will also help to lessen stress and tension in the muscles and joints, as well as to restore the balance of the pelvis. Physiotherapy is a natural approach to optimize pelvic health, and it can be used as a preventative medicine for females of all ages from teens through menopause.
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