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Femina Physical Therapy blogThe Staff of Femina Physical Therapy Blogs About Vaginismus, Pregnancy and Postpartum Best Practices, Treatments for Incontinence, and More

Urinary Incontinence is common, Pelvic Floor Therapy can help

Urinary incontinence is the loss of bladder control. Urinary incontinence affects up to 1 in 3 women. The two most common types of urinary incontinence that affect women are stress incontinence and urge incontinence (also called overactive bladder, or OAB). Incontinence affects twice as many women as men. This may be because pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are contributing factors to urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence should not be considered a normal part of aging, and it can be treated.

A new article published in September, 2018 by Lamerton, Torquati, & Brown found that being overweight (BMI 25-30) increased risk of urinary incontinence for young and middle aged by 35% and obesity (BMI ≥30) almost doubles the risk at 95%.

The findings of this study are important because those with urinary incontinence when young and middle aged adults are more likely to have worse symptoms when they are older. Another reason why the study is important is that weight, relative to factors like genetics, is a risk factor that can be controlled with diet and exercise.

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A 101 on the credentials, training, and skills of pelvic floor therapists

Two recently published articles, in the International Urogynecology Journal and in Neurourology and Urodynamics talk about the positive outcomes of treatment with trained pelvic floor therapists. Today is a basic rundown of what kinds of credentials, training, and skills pelvic floor therapists have to offer you.

Credentials

Pelvic floor therapists are often physical therapists (PT) or occupational therapists (OT). Both of these disciplines require academically rigorous coursework that covers topics from anatomy and kinesiology, to neuroscience, and the evaluation, treatment, and management of common diagnoses. They are also trained in a medical system, and are aware of "red flags" in signs and symptoms that patients may present with. These "red flags" will typically require additional medical referral to rule in or out (i.e. suspected masses, infection, etc).

You will often find a jumble of letters after your pelvic floor therapist’s name. Here is a breakdown of what those letters mean:

PT, MPT, MSPT, or DPT: These letters represent the degree that your physical therapist earned. For many years, physical therapists earned a bachelor's degree prior to becoming licensed. Later, schools transitioned to master's degree programs. The letters MPT or MSPT indicates a master's degree in physical therapy. Most programs today now train therapists for a DPT degree, which stands for doctorate of physical therapy.

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Menopause is a period of life transition for many of us. Today we will review what menopause is and how symptoms can negatively affect pelvic health, including bowel, bladder and sexual function.

What Happens During Menopause?

Menopause is an important life transition for those with female anatomy, marking the end of the regular menstrual cycle and the transition to life beyond the reproductive period.

Babies born with female anatomy have a set number of eggs which are stored in their ovaries. The ovaries make the hormones estrogen and progesterone, which control monthly periods and ovulation. Menopause happens when ovaries no longer regularly release an egg every month and menstruation stops.

The age menopause starts can vary, but usually it is after the age of 40. Some people can go through menopause early, usually after a hysterectomy, damage to the ovaries, and sometimes from chemotherapy.

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Painful periods are common.

According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, more than half of those who have periods suffer from “dysmenorrhea” (pain associated with their cycles) 1-2 days each month.

What causes the pain?

There are two main causes of the pain associated with menstruation:

  • Primary dysmenorrhea is pain caused by the related to menstruation and starts shortly before or after bleeding begins
  • Secondary dysmenorrhea is period pain that is tied to another condition, usually endometriosis or fibroids

Although period pain is a commonly shared experience, your pain shouldn’t be keeping you from doing things like resting comfortably, going to school, going to work, or being active.

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Tightly Wound recently released on Iris!

Tightly Wound has been released, watch it today and share it with your loved ones and anyone else who may need more education on vaginismus and pain with sex.

Tightly Wound is a 15-minute animated short by Shelby Hadden. Our very own Heather Jeffcoat, DPT is one of the producers of film. Check out the video here.

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Pilates Can Strengthen the Pelvic Floor

A modified Pilates program can be a fantastic way to improve the strength of the pelvic floor muscles. A 2018 study by Lausen et al.  had clients attend weekly one-hour Pilates classes over the course of six weeks. These classes used a type of Modified Pilates which consisted of Pilates exercises which had been modified and led by a physical therapist to specifically target the pelvic floor for the management of urinary incontinence. Those who attended the Pilates classes reported less leakage, improved self-esteem, decreased social embarrassment and lower impact of incontinence. Some of the women also reported improvement in their personal relationships after attending the classes.

In another 2011 study by Phrompaet et al., researchers found Pilates to be an effective treatment for instability in the low back and

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