7 question quiz: What does a vagina physio do?
1. What are other names for a pelvic floor physio?
Women’s health physio
Pelvic health physiotherapist
Men’s health physiotherapist
Answer: all of the above. The problem is that none of the above titles really explains what I do. So:
2. What does a pelvic floor physio treat?
Urinary incontinence (leakage of urine)
Fecal incontinence (leakage of poo)
Answer: all of the above. And more: erectile dysfunction, prolapse (descent of organs into the vagina), Lower back/hip/pubic/glut pain, Chronic pelvic pain (longstanding bladder pain, coccyx pain, abdominal pain).
3. What is the role of the pelvic floor physio?
Massage vaginas all day long
Make the vagina tighter after childbirth
Tell people to do kegels all day long
Get patients to do pelvic tilts lying on the floor
Answer: none of the above. But these are all answers given to me when I ask some people what they think that I do. And you’d be forgiven for thinking I do these things, because nobody bloody well talks about all the things that I deal with. Except me. I talk about vaginas, poos and wees alllll the time. I need to be reminded that it is not suitable dinner table conversation, very often.
4. Who do pelvic floor physios treat?
Answer: All of the above. Everyone has a pelvic floor. Even your pet.
Just to be clear, I am not only a vagina whisperer, but I also deal with all things bladder, bowels, penises, erections, sex. Yep, pelvic floor physio is a liiiiittle more complex than ‘doing some kegels’ (you’d hope so, after years of pre and post-grad training).
5. What kind of treatment techniques/modalities does a pelvic floor physio use?
Advice on daily behaviours ie fluid intake, diet, functional movements, general exercise
Pelvic floor muscle training
Electrical stimulation to cause muscle contraction (yep that’s a probe in the vagina)
Answer: all of the above. And more.
6. So will I have to have an internal assessment if I see a pelvic floor physio?
Answer: No, you don’t HAVE to do anything a health professional tells you. However, an internal vaginal or rectal assessment is the best way to assess how these muscles are functioning in terms of: technique, strength, endurance, co-ordination, relaxation. It also tells us if there is a prolapse, skin disorder, thinning of tissues and more. Many pelvic floor physios have an ultrasound machine which is the next best thing to assess the muscles, but it does not show prolapse, tissue abnormalities or full muscle function.
By the way, pelvic floor physio assessments are known to be much more gentle than other vaginal exams ie pap-smears.
7. So what else does this pelvic floor physio do?
Teach pilates and yoga to pregnant and post natal women
Treat pregnancy related pain ie pelvic girdle pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, neck pain from breastfeeding
Ultrasound and massage for mastitis (blocked breast milk ducts)
Exercise prescription and lifestyle advice for osteoporosis
Answer: all of the above. I’m a busy woman!
- the vagina physio