Pelvic floor dysfunction is a common condition which presents in three main ways: Urinary incontinence or loss of bladder control, faecal incontinence or the loss of control of bowel motions and pelvic organ prolapse when there is a loss of stability of the pelvic organs. The most common symptom of pelvic floor dysfunction is urinary incontinence, which affects 37% of Australian women and 13% of Australian men. Only 31% of these people report having sought help from a health professional. Some of the most common risk factors for pelvic floor dysfunction and urinary incontinence include Pregnancy/Childbirth, menopause, lack of mobility and physicality with age, obesity and Prostatectomy/Hysterectomy (surgery involving the male prostate or the female uterus).
Pelvic floor dysfunction has traditionally been described as resulting from laxity or poor tone of the pelvic floor musculature and/or ligaments. The resulting urinary incontinence can be can be categorised by the following types:
What you can do to help right now:
Kegel exercises have been shown to improve the strength and tone of the muscles of the pelvic floor. They also benefit men who develop urinary incontinence following prostate surgery. The exercise can be done by squeezing 5 times as though you are holding on to go to the toilet, holding each contraction for a count of 5 seconds. Five contractions equal 1 set. You should do 1 set every hour while they are awake, during their daily activities.
Weight loss, along with improving overall health and reducing the risk of issues such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, high blood pressure and heart disease can have a significant impact on the chances of developing and also the recovery of pelvic floor dysfunction. A study conducted demonstrated that a behavioural intervention targeting weight loss reduced urinary incontinence in women who were overweight and obese compared with the control group.
Another study found that the greater amount of weight lost was associated with reduction in urinary incontinence.
How can we help?
At Complete health we have experience in providing specific cues to help our clients perform targeted exercises. This is especially important in relation to pelvic floor activation as some people may find it difficult to differentiate between pelvic floor, abdominal and gluteal muscles. We see a number of people who have reported dysfunction of the pelvic floor and who have noticed an improvement through targeted exercise which helps to educate them around building awareness and control of the pelvic floor, and surrounding musculature. Please feel free to ask us about how we can help.
By Dr Nicole Carrick (Osteopath)