What's a pelvic floor physio, and why should you see one?
Here's everything you need to know about this highly-specialised area of physiotherapy for women.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is at the centre of everything we do here at JUNOFEM. Hands-on clinical experience has been key to our research and development process, and we're lucky to call some of the industry's best clinical experts part of our core team -- for our research studies, and throughout the development of the femfit® pelvic floor training system.
I’m Hannah Orr, and I'm an in-house pelvic floor physiotherapist at JUNOFEM. If you’ve heard about pelvic floor physiotherapy but you're not sure exactly what it is and why you might need to see one – here’s the rundown.
What is pelvic floor physiotherapy?
Pelvic floor physiotherapy focuses on optimising the functions of the pelvic area—specifically, the pelvic floor muscles that form the floor of the pelvis and play a key role in things like continence, pelvic organ support and sexual function.
What conditions do pelvic floor physiotherapists treat?
Common conditions of the pelvic floor include difficulty emptying the bladder or bowel, difficulty maintaining the contents of the bladder or bowel, or loss of pelvic organ support such as prolapse. Pelvic floor physiotherapy also plays an important role in treating sexual dysfunction or conditions where pain, tightness or sensitivity in the pelvic region might limit or prevent you from engaging in certain activities, like using a tampon, riding a bike or simply wearing your favourite pair of jeans.
A bit about me, and my path to JUNOFEM
I graduated from Auckland University of Technology in 2004, and spent my first few years working at Middlemore Hospital before venturing to the UK, where my interest in pelvic floor physiotherapy began. When I returned to New Zealand in 2009, I completed a post-graduate certificate in pelvic floor physiotherapy with the University of Melbourne, and more recently my masters with JUNOFEM CEO and co-founder Jenny Kruger, through my work with the pelvic floor research group at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute.
Going beyond the physical symptoms
Pelvic health is a unique specialty of physiotherapy due to the sensitivities associated with the pelvis itself -- physically, culturally, and socially as well. For many, it can be difficult to talk about this area of our bodies, and historically, society hasn't provided enough education on what might be considered "normal" and not normal in this area.
For this reason, pelvic conditions can cause distress well beyond just the physical symptoms. Symptoms that might seem trivial, like having difficulty getting to the toilet, emptying your bowels, or leaking urine during your everyday life, can have big consequences on an individual's social and psychological wellbeing.
Pelvic health physiotherapy is all about helping people feel in control again, and enabling them to function in the world in a way that honours these sensitivities. For me personally, this is why I love my job. There's nothing better than creating a safe environment for people to explore symptoms that might be difficult to talk about, and know that with some often simple strategies, a big impact can be made.
The value of femfit® in pelvic floor physiotherapy
The femfit® pelvic floor training system is currently best suited to women living with stress urinary incontinence (SUI). We know this programme works because it's been tested in a randomised control trial, and I've seen many patients graduate from our programmes having regained that control that we know is so important for our social and psychological wellbeing.
How does femfit® work?
The system combines a discreet, comfortable medical device with clinically-validated strength training programmes delivered via mobile app, plus ongoing, wraparound support from your own physio, or our in-house team of specialists. I think of femfit® as a bit like having your own personal physiotherapist at home with you, keeping you on track as you strengthen your floor.
Is it more than just fancy kegels?
It sure is. When it comes to strengthening any muscle, the key is to make sure the exercise you're doing are targeting the right muscles, and that you have adequate training stimulus to get a physiological response. Pelvic floor exercises are often performed as a few here and a few there, maybe at the traffic lights or in the checkout queue, but if you think of pelvic floor strengthening like training for a marathon, you need to do more than take a short walk to the corner shops if you want to finish that marathon—and still be able to walk the next day!
Do you need to be working with a pelvic floor physio to get the most out of femfit®?
No, not at all. femfit® by JUNOFEM is not just a device, it's a team of people who can support you on your journey to pelvic floor health. I'm part of that team as an in-house pelvic health physiotherapist, and I work alongside engineers, researchers and specialised experts who have been doing this for over a decade. We work together with a common goal to ensure you get optimal, actionable feedback about your exercises, the right level of support and encouragement to help you stay on track, plus general information about the pelvic floor to give you confidence as you get stronger.