Are you experiencing pelvic health issues due to pregnancy and/or childbirth? Are pelvic health issues affecting you from becoming pregnant? Did you recently deliver a child and are still experiencing some discomfort and pain? Our pelvic health specialists are here to help you understand the causes of pelvic floor pain before, during and after pregnancy and the benefits of pelvic floor therapy.
What causes pelvic floor pain pre-pregnancy?
“Pelvic floor pain pre-pregnancy is often caused by tightness or tension in the pelvic floor muscles, similar to a tension headache or jaw pain coming from tight muscles around those areas,” said Christine Burke, Certified Pelvic Rehabilitation Practitioner. Pelvic floor pain can also be caused by underlying gynecologic or urinary conditions like endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, interstitial cystitis, painful bladder syndrome and other medical conditions.
What causes pelvic floor pain during pregnancy?
When your baby starts to grow, the increased weight on the uterus can lead to pelvic pain. Due to discomfort and weak abdominals, you may start shifting your posture to compensate. This creates tension and can also increase how hard the pelvic floor muscles have to work.
What causes pelvic floor pain post-pregnancy?
Pelvic floor pain can occur post-pregnancy due to muscle or nerve “trauma” from delivery, perineal tearing and pelvic organ prolapse. “Sometimes as the muscles heal following childbirth, they can heal too tight, which can cause pain as well. Think of a sprinter tearing their hamstring, when it often heals the muscle fibers are very tight,” said Christine.
Overall, what are the benefits of pelvic floor physical therapy?
The pelvic floor is an important muscle group that supports the bladder, bowel, rectum and uterus so it is important to see a specialist in order to:
- Restore strength, endurance and coordination of the core muscle group including the pelvic floor muscles and abdominals
- Restore normal tissue stretch and extensibility to the pelvic floor muscles
- Address any scar tissue or trauma to the perineum or pelvic floor muscles from delivery
- Manage any lingering abdominal separation
- Help women return to pre-pregnancy fitness and activities
- Address any bowel, bladder, sexual dysfunction or pelvic pain
What to expect during your first visit
- During your first visit you will be evaluated by a physical therapist, who will walk you through any symptoms you are experience as well as your personal physical therapy goals. The physical therapist will then do a physical exam and based on your results and information gathered, the physical therapist will build a personalized treatment plan for you.
Pelvic floor physical therapy can also help prepare you for labor and delivery. Getting in tune with your pelvic floor muscles can help decrease risk of tearing and teach you breathing techniques to help with pelvic floor relaxation and laboring positions for comfort.
If you are experiencing any discomfort or symptoms, don’t let it linger. “Many of our patients are often surprised at how beneficial pelvic floor physical therapy can be for both prenatal and postpartum symptoms. Many of the common symptoms that go along with having a baby are normalized when in reality, while common they aren’t normal and there a variety of treatment approaches that can help,” said Christine.
Ask your OB, midwife or primary care physician for a referral. Seek help from a pelvic floor physical therapist, who can assist you in developing an individualized treatment plan to minimize and control symptoms before, during and after pregnancy.
The Hoag Pelvic Health Program offers an integrative approach to pelvic floor treatment with locations in Newport Beach and Irvine. To schedule an appointment, call our Newport Beach location at 949-764-7277 or our Irvine location at 949-557-0190. Physician referral is required.