Happy Women’s Health Week! We met up with Maeve O’Brien who is a Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapist working at the Community Pelvic Health clinic in Canberra to talk all things pelvic health!
1. Why is good pelvic health important?
1 in 4 Australians, men, women, and children, can have problems with their pelvic health and this can have a significant impact on their quality of life. There is much that can be done to help people with pelvic health conditions, but many people do not seek help. Good pelvic health is essential for not only continence but also sexual function. Sometimes people are embarrassed to raise their concerns with their doctor or physiotherapist, but it is important to remember that we specialise in these issues and can offer simple strategies that can make a big difference.
2. Tell us a bit about pelvic pain and the pelvic floor?
Pelvic pain affects 1 in 5 women but often cannot be diagnosed with a test or scans which means that people often continue to suffer for years before getting help. Sometimes the pelvic floor muscles themselves can become tight and painful and this can make passing urine, opening bowels and intercourse painful. Women with pelvic pain may also experience abdominal pain, bloating and pain with their periods.
Pelvic health physiotherapists assess all these things and provide a plan to help manage and improve these symptoms. Unfortunately, there is often not one thing that will fix everything but by having a detailed assessment and setting goals together we can develop a plan to reduce pain.
3. If someone is experiencing pelvic pain, what can they do to help improve this?
First of all, it is important to seek help and talk to their doctor or pelvic health physiotherapist if they have not done so already. Simple lifestyle choices can have a big impact on pain. These may include ensuring they are drinking enough fluid every day 1.5-2l of mostly water is sufficient, they are managing their bowel health and avoiding constipation, getting regular exercise which may just be walking every day for short periods, sleeping well and trying to do something they enjoy every day. This may be something as simple as listening to music or reading a good book. Depending on the nature of the pain, we will often provide more specific treatments and strategies following the initial assessment.
4. How do your workshops help women to take control of their pelvic health?
We offer two face to face workshops. One is a pelvic floor workshop for women with continence or prolapse symptoms that provides education on healthy bladder and bowel habits and provides simple strategies to help manage these conditions. The other is a more targeted workshop for women experiencing persistent pelvic pain. This provides detail on why pelvic pain occurs, education on pain management strategies including pelvic floor relaxation and stretches and aims to empower women to manage this complex condition.