What is pelvic floor physiotherapy?

Pelvic floor physiotherapy

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a treatment option for people suffering from pelvic pain or pelvic floor disorder. The goal of therapy is to help improve the functions of the abdomen and pelvis. It is suitable for everyone, regardless of age, gender, body type or physical ability.

If you experience symptoms related to bladder or bowel control, or sexual functions, pelvic floor physiotherapy may help.

The Pelvic Floor Muscles

All genders have pelvic floor muscles. They are located at the base of the pelvis in the lower abdomen and range from the pubic bone to the coccyx, and form a fascia supporting the overlying organs, which include:

  • Bladder
  • Intestines and rectum
  • Uterus and vagina
  • Prostate

When the pelvic floor muscles are weak or do not relax or contract properly, the organs above them may not function as they should. As a result, pelvic floor dysfunction can cause bladder or bowel incontinence or problems that occur during sexual intercourse.

Pelvic floor disorders can occur for the following reasons:

  • Aging
  • Pregnancy or childbirth
  • Overweight
  • Heavy lifting
  • Fatigue of the pelvic muscles due to excessive efforts during defecation or when performing certain exercises
  • A serious injury to the pelvic area, such as a car accident
  • Pelvic surgery

What can pelvic floor physiotherapy treat?

Pelvic floor physiotherapy can treat many different conditions that cause dysfunction in the pelvic floor.

Bladder Problems

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a common treatment for several bladder problems, including:

  • Urinary incontinence.
  • Urinary retention.
  • Urinary frequency.
  • Urinary urgency.
  • Frequent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Intestinal Problems

Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help with several intestinal problems, including:

  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Fecal incontinence.
  • Fecal smearing.


Pelvic floor physiotherapy is an option for people suffering from lymphedema or excess swelling caused by lymphatic fluids in the body. Conditions that can cause this swelling include:

  • Cancer treatments (breast cancer, pelvic and abdominal cancers, head and neck cancers, etc.).
  • Congenital lymphedema.
  • Edema due to chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

Sexual Dysfunction

Pelvic floor physiotherapy can help with sex-related pain or dysfunction, including:

  • Vaginismus (involuntary contractions of the vagina).
  • Dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse).
  • Vulvodynia (chronic pain in the vulva, the opening of the vagina).
  • Anorgasmia (delayed or absent orgasms).
  • Dysorgasmia (pain during or after orgasm).

Other conditions that may warrant pelvic floor physiotherapy include:

  • Endometriosis.
  • Post prostatectomy.
  • Peyronie's disease.
  • Pre-natal and postpartum conditions.
  • Pelvic pain.
  • Diastasis abdominis (separation of the large abdominal muscles).
  • Coccydynia (coccyx pain).
  • Chronic hip or back pain along with any of the above problems.
  • Prolapse of the pelvic organ.
  • Follow-up of surgical care for gender affirmation.

How Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy Works

If you have problems with your bladder, bowel or sexual functions, it is important that you talk to your doctor. These symptoms may affect your quality of life. If the pelvic floor muscles are the cause, pelvic floor physiotherapy can help.

A specialized physical therapist uses several treatments to help you learn how to control and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. The type and number of treatments depend on the diagnosis and severity of your symptoms. Some common pelvic floor physiotherapies include:

  • Education on how pelvic muscles and anatomy work. Your therapist can also provide information on how your bathroom habits affect your muscles and symptoms.
  • Education and instruction on performing pelvic floor strengthening exercises, including properly performed Kegel exercises. These exercises help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, reduce bladder and bowel incontinence, and can be performed at home.
  • Manual therapy to gently manipulate scar tissue, muscles, connective tissue and nerves. It can help improve blood circulation and relax contracted tissues.
  • Functional activities to solve problems related to position, posture and body mechanics. They may include bowel and bladder re-education or device recommendations.
  • Pelvic floor biofeedback to help you "see" and use the pelvic floor muscles correctly. In this case, probes placed on your abdomen, along the area or in the vagina monitor the contractions of the pelvic floor.
  • Electrical stimulation of nerves or muscles. Your therapist applies electrodes to the outside of your body that emit gentle impulses to help strengthen your muscles or relax your nerves.

When to Ask for Help

It is not uncommon to feel uncomfortable or embarrassed to talk about incontinence or problems in sexual intercourse. However, pelvic floor dysfunction is more common than you might think. It also does not heal on its own and often gets worse with time if left untreated.

This type of physiotherapy is very effective for treating pelvic floor muscle problems and carries no risks. If you think you have symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, don't wait. Talk to your specialist right away, so you can prevent annoying symptoms and improve your quality of life. Click HERE to know our dedicated team.