Women's Health Service

Women’s Health Physiotherapy and Continence

Women of all ages can suffer from embarrassing urinary and/or faecal incontinence symptoms. It is estimated 1 in 4 women experience these problems at some point in their lifetime. These symptoms can vary in severity.

These problems are often as a result of weakening of the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy and childbirth and later in life due to the hormonal changes around the menopause, as well as lifestyle and other factors.

There is usually a combination of causes, but all are associated with a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles support the pelvic organs and also help to control urinary and faecal continence. If damaged or stretched, they may no longer work properly and/or may no longer hold up the bladder, vagina and back passage. The pelvic floor muscles may be weak, damaged or not being used properly. Some women don’t know where their pelvic floor muscles are or how to use them. Some women may think they can do pelvic floor muscle exercises, but are not doing them correctly. Others may have a strong pelvic floor, but are not using it when they should.

Many women may be too embarrassed to talk about their problem. It can cause great stress and can impact on a woman’s quality of life, health and well being.

Often all it takes is some specialist physiotherapy advice to resolve their problem.

Specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapy is recommended by the Department of Health as the first line treatment for these problems and for many is highly successful. Research has shown that physiotherapy can be effective in the treatment of incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse, to the point where women can postpone or avoid the need for surgery or other interventions (up to 79% of women suffering from stress urinary incontinence).

Conditions Treated:
  • Stress urinary incontinence (loss of urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing, changing position)
  • Urinary urgency (a sudden strong need to empty your bladder)
  • Urge incontinence (a leak if you don’t get to the toilet in time)
  • Frequency (passing urine too often during the day and/or night)
  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse (mild to moderate)
  • Leaking of urine during sexual intercourse
  • Faecal incontinence
  • Sexual discomfort
  • Weak pelvic floor muscles following childbirth
Possible treatments
  • Pelvic floor muscle exercises
  • Bladder retraining
  • Advice
  • Electrical stimulation
  • Biofeedback
  • Vaginal cones

Assessment

When you make an appointment to see our Specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist, Suzanne Willacy, we will post or email you some information explaining what to expect at your initial assessment.

We recognise that a lot of women can be a very sensitive and embarrassed about their problem and would like to assure you that we maintain the highest professional standards at all times.

All information received and any treatment given remains strictly confidential.

Your initial assessment will take approximately 1 hour. You will be asked general questions and other questions specific to your problem.

Tests that may be performed:

  • Urinalysis - a small sample of your urine is tested to check for signs of infection, blood or glucose, to ensure that there are no other problems with your general health or bladder that may be causing your symptoms.

  • Bladder diary - a simple 3 day diary. It gives valuable information about what and when you drink and how often you pass urine and the volumes of urine you pass.

  • Examination - Research shows the only effective way to assess how well your pelvic floor muscles are working is by vaginal examination. When you book your appointment, we will post or email information fully explaining this examination. Of course, if you do not want this examination you can decline, but it will limit the treatment and advice given.

After your assessment your physiotherapist will discuss this with you and decide on options. Some women may only need 2 or 3 physiotherapy sessions, some will need more.

Women’s Health Physiotherapy in Pregnancy

Many women experience some degree of pain or discomfort during their pregnancy. For most this is entirely normal and manageable, but some women experience considerable pain in their pelvis, lower back and/or abdomen.

The causes are variable, but frequently due to hormonally related softening of the ligaments supporting your joints coupled with the increasing weight as your pregnancy progresses.

Most problems are treatable and Suzanne Willacy, our Specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist, can help. Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) - 30% of pregnant women develop some pelvic pain. This can occur from early in your pregnancy or not until towards the end.

You can experience some (or all!) of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the pubic area and groin
  • Pain on the inside of your thighs
  • Low back pain
  • Hip pain
  • Pain on performing normal daily activities
  • “Clicking” or “Grinding” of you pelvic joints
  • Difficulty and pain when you open your legs
  • Other symptoms

Low Back Pain - 50% of pregnant women experience some low back pain, usually in the later stages of their pregnancy. This can have many causes, but physiotherapy can help.

Conditions treated

  • Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) –previously called SPD or Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction
  • Sacro-iliac joint dysfunction
  • Low back pain
  • Rib pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (CTS) – tingling/painful hand(s)
  • Coccyx pain

“Bumps to Babes” Classes in our Exercise Studio

A 2 hour ‘one-off’ evening session, for pregnant women and their partners, from about 28 weeks of their pregnancy. Come along to learn about:

  • Exercise in Pregnancy
  • Back care in pregnancy
  • Pelvic floor exercises
  • Massage in Labour
  • Positions for labour and delivery
  • And much more!

To book an appointment with our Specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist, Suzanne Willacy, please telephone the clinic on 015395 64727

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