We live in an interesting society; one in which Viagra commercials are shown during family television programming (and isn’t that a fun conversation starter with the kids), but woman’s health issues are rarely discussed. In fact, many physician’s dismiss concerns, such as urine leakage and pelvic pain, as a normal part of life for women after childbirth or “past a certain age.” For years, I believed severe menstrual pain was normal, and my OB told me that I would just have to live with nearly debilitating hip pain during pregnancy. Neither of these was true.
One local woman has made it her mission to educate and treat women with pelvic health issues. Lori Van Dusen is a skilled physical therapist and owner of Dupont Physical Therapy. During a recent seminar, Lori discussed her conviction that women do not have to suffer with common, but treatable ailments, such as pelvic pain, bladder control difficulties, and painful intercourse. While some of us might cringe at the thought of talking about any of these problems, doing so with Lori can have a life-changing impact on your life. Without beginning the conversation we cannot create change, either for ourselves or for our daughters.
Lori has consented to write a series or articles for us, beginning with the text below. Please comment below and tell us what else you would like to learn in future articles.
Do you leak when you laugh, sneeze, cough, or exercise?
Does your urge to ‘go’ keep you from sleeping?
Do you suffer from pain during intercourse?
You are not alone.
Millions of women suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction, which can lead to urinary and/or bowel incontinence and pelvic pain. Pregnancy, childbirth, chronic constipation, chronic coughing, surgery, trauma and aging can cause pelvic floor muscle tension, incoordination and weakness. Weak pelvic muscles are a major factor in pelvic floor dysfunction. These problems may be common but they should not be considered normal. Often times people and doctors do normalize them by saying, “well, you’ve had kids or that happens when you get older.” There are other options to help besides medication and surgery, like physical therapy. Here are 2 of the most common problems women experience that therapy can help with.
50% of adult women will have incontinence at some point. The effects of pregnancy and childbirth, and the effects of decreasing estrogen, can cause women to experience this issue. But with proper strengthening, the data shows there’s an 85-percent chance of complete resolution. They key word here is proper. Sometimes women may think that they are engaging their muscles correctly when in reality they are not. Physical Therapy can help make sure you are doing kegels correctly and using the right muscles. Once the correct muscles are identified it is important to train them. A strong squeeze when you are about to laugh, cough, or sneezing can help keep you from leaking.
Think of your pelvic floor as a hammock that supports pelvic organs. When the pelvic floor muscles become weak or stretched from delivery, straining or hormones, the organs—the bladder, uterus, small bowel, rectum—can drop from their normal spot and push against the wall of the vagina causing discomfort, constipation, and feeling the urge to ‘go’ too often. Stretching and strengthening with Physical Therapy can greatly improve your symptoms. Women who have suffered a prolapse but have had surgery to repair it are still at risk for reoccurrence. Without proper strengthening, all it takes is to incorrectly brace and you could blow right through the surgical correction. Physical Therapy can help make sure that will not happen.