Common Myths Around Pelvic Floor Health

Feb 16, 2020

Hi, everyone! I am excited about this blog post, because it’s something I think needs to be discussed.  

I find that there are many “myths” and issues floating around out there about pelvic health and I want to be sure we discuss them so you know what to believe and what not to believe.  I want to make sure you are getting good, quality information. 

 

So, I’m going to do 4 different things I’ve been hearing consistently and answer them to the best of my ability. Please understand that this is not, nor is any of my content, to be taken as actual medical advice!! 

One of the biggest ones that I hear is: 

1. You have to be pregnant or have had children to suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction. 

I’m going to stop this myth right now. First and foremost, it’s not true. There is evidence that suggests that you can have pelvic floor dysfunction without being pregnant and without having had children.   

It is true that there is a higher chance of pelvic floor dysfunction during pregnant or during postpartum, but that does not mean you will not have any symptoms prior to this time frame in life.  

Personally, I've never had children and am not currently pregnant, but had stress urinary incontinence and pelvic pain in the form of dyspareunia (pain with sex) for about 10 years. I bought into the thought that I was not supposed to be having these issues which contributed to a LOT of emotions that were tied to my dysfunctions. I was never told that it was something that could be treated. I also kept being told, “Well you’ve never had kids and you’re not pregnant so it doesn’t make sense.”  

The truth is, you can have pelvic floor dysfunction in childhood or at any age. You can have it if you’re a boy, if you’re a girl... teenager... adult... there are so many factors that can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction without requiring pregnancy or postpartum time frames.  

2. It’s normal to have urinary incontinence with heavy lifting or in the older age.  

FALSE. FALSE. FALSE. I don’t know if I'm stable enough to keep saying this, but IT IS NEVER NORMAL TO PEE YOURSELF. It is never something you have to live with either. 

The unfortunate thing is, MANY people suffer from having incontinence and we just don’t talk about it. We don’t talk about it because we’ve been told it’s normal. That leads us down the path of not getting help. 

With lifting heavy, yes, your pelvic floor takes on more pressure. Yes you have to strain more of your muscles. Yes you have to brace and breathe differently. But, no it should not be causing urinary incontinence. There are many techniques a skilled pelvic floor physical therapist could go into in order to prevent you from having to pee with exercise. 

Stated by one of my clients, “It’s so embarrassing to pee on the box when I’m reaching my personal best.” 

You don’t have to be embarrassed! 

And, as I say with most things, age makes no difference here. You should never “expect” to be living in pads and urinary incontinence products. That market pisses me off to no end. It is not inevitable that you pee as you age. It’s not something to laugh about, or joke about, or even feel is remotely normal. 

Is anyone else annoyed by the fact that we just live with this?! I’m seriously fired up about all of it.  

3. Pelvic floor physical therapy only treats things are wrong with you. 

Another MYTH! Pelvic floor physical therapy is such an amazing specialty to be able to prevent any issues, help benefit you along stages of life, AND if something does happen, we can help with that too. 

I get a lot of questions about what is it I treat, and “is it just when people pee themselves?”  

No, that’s not it. I treat many of the following: 

  • Prevention of pelvic floor dysfunction  
  • Pre-conception treatment 
  • Chronic pelvic pain 
  • Dyspareunia (pain with sex) 
  • Pubic symphysis dysfunction 
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction 
  • Low back pain 
  • Pelvic organ prolapse 
  • Urinary incontinence 
  • Constipation 
  • Fecal incontinence 
  • Diastasis recti 

And I could keep going. Many clinicians treat clients whom have lymphatic impairments, cancer, chronic illnesses, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis.. And so on.  

We do not ONLY need to be a part of your team when or if something happens. We should be a part of your team throughout the whole thing. 

I tell clients, you should see me during the timeframe of trying to conceive, during pregnancy, possibly during labor and delivery, AND postpartum. That is the best way to optimize your health!  

4. Women who workout in CrossFit or lift heavy, or marathon runners, are so fit they don’t need any pelvic floor physical therapy. Nothing is wrong with them. 

This is another comment that gets me fired up. This comment comes from clinicians more than from clients. I hear this from primary care physicians, OB’s, gynecologists, chiros, other physical therapists ALL THE TIME. 

This statement is far from the truth. Just because someone exercises a lot and eats healthy does not mean nothing is going on down under. Honestly, I find my higher level athletes to be the most challenging of cases BECAUSE of their understanding of fitness. 

What I mean by this is, the clients that I treat whom workout 4-6/week, high impact or hard workouts, usually have a really hard time with connecting with their pelvic floor. They have difficulty with pelvic floor breathing and difficulty with bracing properly because it’s different from how they’re coached to do it.  

I think it’s important to understand that of course everyone is different. But as an athlete, females have a lot of pressure on themselves already to compete at a high standard. To succeed. To look the part. Then if you add in that she pees with working out, she absolutely will not say anything for fear of being taken out of the mix. Or being seen as weak. 

Urinary incontinence, pain, prolapse, diastasis.. Are just a few of the things that I see in my “fit and healthy female.” I LOVE getting clients who want to be healthier and workout more but want to prevent the above from occurring! But I also love the clients who were told nothing should be wrong with them because they’re fit. I have space for you!  

 

Hopefully that unmasks a few of the questions you have about pelvic floor dysfunction and physical therapy. There are so many reasons why I do what I do. So many myths and bad information getting out there on the internet. PLEASE if you ever have any questions, feel free to ask! I really would LOVE to answer. 

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