Let’s Talk Pelvic Health



When it comes to pelvic pain help is out there.


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Today is International Women’s Day. A time to celebrate what women have and continue to accomplish and all that they are – inside and out. So what better time to stand up and say “I value my pelvic health and want to take care of it.”


We all happily discuss the pain we experience in our backs or the carpal tunnel in our wrists, but when it comes to a woman’s pelvic health mum tends to be the word.


Janice Falconer, a pelvic health physiotherapy specialist with over 30 years of experience in the field, is a firm believer in educating women on this subject.


“We need to make it more acceptable for women to ask questions about their pelvic health,” she says. She explains that when women go to their doctor to discuss a pelvic health issue such as a prolapse -- a common condition after childbirth where one or more of the organs in the pelvis bulges into the vagina – they benefit from a positive response. Just because women have had children does not mean they need to suffer from pelvic health issues.


It is generally accepted that 50 percent of parous women may have a degree of prolapse and 30 percent may have incontinence. Some women also have pelvic pain issues such as vaginismus which can be treated by a specialist physiotherapist with the anatomical knowledge and skills to reduce symptoms.


If they aren’t doing so already, doctors may want to ask their patients if they’re experiencing pain, as well as the type and precise location of the pain, and offer treatment as appropriate.


Falconer, who is the Allied Health Professionals team lead for pelvic health at Forth Valley Hospital in Scotland, says the most common pelvic disorders she sees in her practice are urinary incontinence, prolapses, and pelvic pain related to hypertonic (where the muscles are consistently contracted) pelvic floor muscles.


Women most at risk of developing pelvic health disorders are women who have had vaginal births. “This is because of the fascial, muscular and neurological changes that occur during pregnancy and childbirth,” Falconer explains.


Complications with the pelvic floor may not occur until around the menopause -- but this is why it is important to understand and take care of our pelvic health.


Falconer suggests there is some research to support the idea of massaging the perineum (the space between the vagina and back passage) before a woman gives birth to reduce the incidence of perineal trauma and this could prevent pelvic health complications in the future. This is the type of information women need in their educational tool box to ensure they are taking care of themselves properly.


“A woman’s pelvic health affects her quality of life and can have an impact on her ability to engage socially with confidence,” says Falconer, adding it’s hard to run a marathon when a woman is worried about incontinence or take a relationship to the next level if she has a prolapse.


Research suggests the average time women will put up with incontinence issues is eight years. However, help is out there.


Lindsay Bridgeman, owner of Cayman Physiotherapy and a pelvic health physiotherapist, wants everyone to know the expertise in this field is growing on the island and women don’t need to suffer in silence. “There is a lot our pelvic health team can do to help women improve their pelvic floor and to guide them through any pelvic health disorders they may be experiencing.”


Falconer says the number one comment she hears from her patients is “I wish I’d come sooner.” On average, patients require between three to eight treatment sessions – dependent on condition – but most will see an improvement in their symptoms.


Think what one simple visit to your health practitioner could do for you.

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Janice Falconer (left), pelvic pain specialist, with the pelvic

health team at Cayman Physiotherapy.