Why is pelvic health important?
Pelvic health refers to the proper functioning of the pelvic floor, which is the three layers of muscles that form a "sling" or a "hammock" that runs between the pubic bone in the front and the tailbone in the back. These muscles control bowel, bladder and sexual function. They also play a vital role in the strength and stabilization of the pelvis, hips and spine.
In women, the pelvic floor also supports pregnancy and delivery.
Because the pelvic floor has several very important functions, when it’s not working properly (usually referred to as “pelvic floor dysfunction”), a variety of problems can arise.
Such problems are very common and can occur at any age or stage of life, and they can develop in anyone — men, women, transgender, gender-neutral or nonbinary individuals.
Clearly, pelvic health has a major impact on quality of life, but many are often unable or unwilling to discuss problems such as incontinence, constipation and/or pain during sexual intercourse. Some are embarrassed, while others believe they “just have to live with” symptoms. Many patients (and physicians) don’t know that pelvic floor therapy exists and may be a treatment option.
Can you treat pelvic floor dysfunction?
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab has extensive experience in treating patients with pelvic floor dysfunction — experience that has evolved from working with a great diversity of pelvic health problems — from post-surgical or chronic pain, incontinence and sexual dysfunction to post-partum pain and pelvic problems faced by elite runners returning to the sport.
Shirley Ryan AbilityLab’s pelvic health program is unique for three key reasons:
- It is led by a physiatrist who is not only a physician specialist in physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R), but specifically rehabilitation of pelvic floor dysfunction.
- We treat everyone — men, women, transgender, gender-neutral or nonbinary individuals. We are the only rehabilitation research hospital that does.
- Our services are fully integrated to reflect the whole patient’s health. Pelvic health patients also have access to our multidisciplinary chronic pain program services.
Pelvic-floor therapy is a noninvasive, conservative and cost-effective treatment option shown to dramatically improve quality-of-life outcomes. We treat a wide range of conditions, including:
- Pelvic-floor dysfunction
- Pelvic, abdominal, hip and low-back pain
- Fecal/bowel incontinence, frequency or urgency
- Constipation/gastrointestinal irregularities/incomplete emptying
- Urinary incontinence, frequency or urgency/incomplete emptying
- Pregnancy and postpartum rehabilitation
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Diastasis recti
- Pain during intercourse
- Pain with vaginal/rectal exam
- Breast Cancer, pelvic cancer and prostate cancer rehabilitation