What is a Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapy?

“Continence and Women’s Health Physiotherapy” can be a misleading title as Physiotherapist’s with specialist training in this area not only work with women but also with men and children. The title also suggests that they only aid continence, when in fact their scope of Physiotherapy practice extends well beyond that. A day may vary from treating a lactating mother who has an inflammatory condition of the breast or treating a child who still wets the bed. It may involve treating a pregnant woman with pelvic pain or teaching pelvic floor muscle training with a man pre or post prostate cancer surgery. It may involve helping a person (young or old) with sexual dysfunction or treating a new mother with abdominal separation after the birth of her child. In honour of World Continence Week 2016 (20th to 26th June), this blog aims to increase awareness of one of the niche areas of the Physiotherapy profession.

After four years of undergraduate Physiotherapy study, each graduate finds themselves out in the big, exciting world of employment as a “generalist”. We have been sufficiently educated at University to be a jack of all trades in the Physiotherapy profession. We know a bit about neuro Physio, a bit of cardiopulmonary, a bit about paediatrics, a bit of musculoskeletal and maybe a bit of women’s health. As we continue in the workforce, most individuals develop an interest in one of these domains and starts to specialise in one or possibly two areas of Physio practice.

I think most undergraduate students were deterred from studying women’s health when they showed us a graphic birthing video in class. I remember most of the men swore off women temporarily and suddenly contraception became a high priority. On the contrary most of the women swore never to have children let alone study and work in this field of Physiotherapy.

In continence and women’s health physiotherapy, one must be comfortable discussing topics of a personal and intimate nature not to mention it requires dedication to undertake further study at a postgraduate level. However, the opportunity to help improve an individual’s quality of life outweighs all of that. Maybe the graphic birthing video shown at University was just an initiation into this field and a clever ploy to weed out those who were not suited to this line of work!

Below are a detailed (but not comprehensive) list of questions relating to a variety of symptoms. If you answer yes to any of these then you may benefit from an appointment with Lauren at Embody Physiotherapy and Pilates.

Bladder

§  Do you leak urine when you cough, sneeze, run or jump?

§  Do you sometimes have an overwhelming need to wee and maybe leak urine on the way to the toilet?

§  Do you urinate very frequently during the day or night?

§  Are there changes in how you empty your bladder? E.g. needing to strain, slow stream of urine, not completely emptying etc.

§  Does your child still wet the bed?

Bowel

§  Do you have difficulty controlling wind or are possibly leaking liquid or stool from the back passage?

§  Do you have constipation and always strain to empty your bowels?

Pelvic Organ Prolapse

§  Do you have a feeling of heaviness or dragging in the pelvic area?

§  Do you notice a lump or bulge in the vaginal area?

Pregnancy

§  Do you have pelvic, groin, lower back, rib or wrist pain?

§  Do you want to exercise safely during your pregnancy?

Postnatal

§  Do you have abdominal separation?

§  Do you have pelvic, lower back, wrist, upper back, neck or pubic bone pain?

§  Are you lactating and have cracked nipples, blocked ducts or mastitis?

§  Do you need a six-week postnatal check-up of your pelvic floor and abdominal muscles prior to returning to exercise?

§  Do you want to get your body back into shape after the birth of your baby?

 

Sex

§  Do you have painful intercourse?

§  Do you have reduced sensation?

§  Do you leak urine during intercourse?

Pre or Post Surgery

§  Do you need to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles prior to a gynaecological or prostate cancer surgery?

§  Do you need suitable exercise post gynaecological or prostate cancer surgery?

 

Written by Lauren Young

Physiotherapist

(Continence & Women's Health)

Pilates Instructor