There are many medical conditions and diseases which are only present in women due to the different anatomy and demands of the female body. Physiotherapists have a large role to play in the treatment of women’s health issues and at Addlife physiotherapy we have specialist training to help with these conditions. Women’s health physiotherapy deals with the diagnosis and treatment of conditions and diseases such as osteoporosis, sexual health, pregnancy and childbirth, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, gynecological cancers and disorders and breast cancer and other breast disorders.
Common Conditions in Women
Urinary disorders affect many women around the world to varying degrees, many women have mild symptoms that only affect them occasionaly, however urinary disorders can become severe and even impact daily activies and lower self esteem. Many women believe that their symptoms are normal and just put up with them, however seeking treatment for all symptoms can have a huge impact on quality of live.
Some of the common urinary disorders in women are:
- stress incontinence – urine leakage caused by an abrupt increase in intra-abdominal pressure
- over-active bladder/urgency – the need to urinate often during the day, at night or both
- nocturia – frequent urination at night
- day time frequency – the need to urinate frequently during the day
- urinary retention – the incomplete emptying of the bladder
Constipation and fecal incontinence are common conditions affecting women. Constipation is the infrequent passage or difficulty to passage stool while fecal incontinence is the loss of bowel control which then causes sudden passing of stool. Our physiotherapists are able to help identify and pelvic floor dysfunction that may be contributing to either fecal incontinence or constiptation.
Prolapse is a term that is used when an organ has moved from its original position. In women’s heath this can occur when one or more organs has descended from the pelvic floor and passes through either the vaginal or rectal opening. This can occur in different directions and with different orgrans and are classified as such;
Anterior vaginal wall prolapse – also referred to as cystocele, this condition is caused by a weakened bladder and vaginal wall. As a result, the bladder bulges into the vagina.
Uterine prolapse – this happens when the uterus slips or sags from its original position into the vagina.
Posterior vaginal wall prolapse – also known as rectocele, posterior vaginal wall prolapse occurs when the tissues that separate the rectum and vagina weaken which will then let the vaginal wall to bulge.
Prolapses are common in women following natural childbirth, however women who have never had children can also suffer from these conditions if they have severe pelvic floor dysfunction. Many women are not aware that they can receive consideral improvement from their symptoms with physiotherapy for both guidance and application of pessaries that can hold organs in place and for pelvic floor strengthening exercises.
As the pelvic region is full of nerves and is a highly sensitive region, for this reason it is especially vulnerable to pain disorders. Two well known pain disorders of the pelvic region that affect women are dyspareunia and vulvodynia. Dyspareunia or painful intercourse is a condition where women experience pain when there’s an attempt or complete vaginal penetration. Vulvodynia, on the other hand, is a chronic pain syndrome affecting the vulvar area in women.
In severe cases, vulvodynia can cause pain with sitting and either condition can make everyday activiies like inserting a tampon and sexual intercourse all but impossible. Our physiotherapists are uniquely qualified to asssist with these conditions and have a varietiy of treatments available to help with pain reduction, getting you on your way back to a better quality of life.
Pregnancy related issues
Pregnancy is a unique stage in a woman’s life. Pregnancy alters women’s normal body functions, both physically and emotionally. The pregnant body will undergo drastic changes for nine months and continues to change well after giving birth. The body needs to adapt to this new function of growing and birthing a chid, unfortunately for many women, this can lead to pain and dysfunction. Conditions such as symphysis pubic dysfunction, mastitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and Dequervain’s synovitis are some of the common conditions experienced by women during and after pregnancy, due to both physical and hormonal changes in the pregnant body.
Physiotherapy for women’s health is a specialized treatment designed for the management of different conditions exclusively experienced by women. The main objective of physiotherapy is to normalize the tone, motor control, activity and coordination of the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles.
With various exercises, with the popular Kegel’s exercise, physiotherapy can help women with the different urinary and bowel disorders. Tissue manipulation, manipulation, neuromuscular re-education, heat/cold therapy, TENS, postural training, home exercise programs are some of the treatments done to improve symptoms.
Physiotherapy will not only help women with their medical conditions but it can also help improve women’s quality of life.