Many people have them, but few will talk about them. What are these unspoken issues? Problems may include bladder/bowel incontinence, organ prolapse and pelvic pain.
Women who have not given birth, as well as men, may experience pelvic floor issues, though they tend to stem from different causes.
Women who have given birth, either vaginally or by caesarean, are at most risk. If at eight to 12 weeks a woman is still having incontinence issues, she will likely remain this way when seen one year later if no intervention has happened. This should not happen because this is a problem that can be helped.
Why don’t people seek out help? In addition to a new mom being very busy, this is just not an easy subject to talk about. It can be an embarrassing topic to bring up and because very few talk about it, you may think you are the only one.
These problems may be just a hiccup in someone’s day or may eventually cause them to leave the house less often. Having to know where all the available bathrooms are, possibly packing incontinence pads in an already too packed purse and having to deal with unexpected accidents, is more common than most people think.
Incontinence is a very common problem, but remember, this is not a normal problem to have! The pelvic floor muscles are like other muscles in the body, in that they have a job to do. One of their jobs is to support some of your organs like the bladder, uterus and rectum. If they become too weak or too tight, they will have problems doing their job well and they let you know this by giving you some symptoms such as experiencing a feeling of heaviness, bladder/bowel leakage or pain.
The good news is there is conservative help available. A pelvic floor physiotherapist can assess your pelvic floor and help you properly engage your pelvic floor muscles, can help release your tight muscles, go over dietary choices that might be bladder/bowel irritants, and help you make some behavior changes throughout the day to support your bladder and bowel. The most important message is that you do not have to live with this problem and that help is available!
Cathy Watson is a physiotherapist in Vernon, with Cathy Watson Physiotherapy.