Pelvic Floor Weakness; not a problem exclusive to women
Listening to something on the radio about how women in France are given extensive pelvic floor physiotherapy after giving birth, it struck me how here in the UK it’s “normal” and even quite amusing for mothers, both recent and not-so-recent, to remark to on how wee can accidentally leak out during exercise, coughing, sneezing or laughing. Because it’s so common, we accept it as part of the post-partum experience, but it shouldn’t be considered normal and it’s a problem that with can be resolved relatively simply and quickly.
In France at six weeks post-partum the mother begins “la rééducation périnéale” in which a physiotherapist specialising in pelvic floor rehab, guides her through a series of at least 10 sessions of pelvic floor exercises over a period of six weeks. Once the “perineal re-education” has been achieved to the satisfaction of the physiotherapist, the “abdominal re-education” can begin (but that’s another story).
OK, so the A4 sheet of paper that women in the UK are duly handed by the midwife as we leave hospital with our new born and a suitcase full of baby paraphernalia will almost certainly be forgotten about, if not lost. But, we really shouldn’t forget our pelvic floors!
Did you know that a weak pelvic floor also effects men? The subject tends not to be something discussed over a pint in the pub and because men don’t go through pregnancy and childbirth, it’s almost certain that they will never have given thought to their own pelvic floor – have they even got one? Surely that’s a women’s thing? Men with “stress incontinence” that is, men who leak urine when they cough, sneeze or are active – will find pelvic floor muscle training can help in getting over this problem.
Other than pregnancy and childbirth, causes of a weak pelvic floor can be: –
- surgery for prostate cancer
- surgery for bladder or bowel problems
- being overweight
- heavy lifting
- a chronic cough or sneeze, including those linked to asthma, smoking or hayfever
- being inactive
- ongoing constipation and straining to empty the bowels
- Getting older!!
Male or female, if this problem affects you, don’t accept it as a simple fact of life. Here are some useful websites to refer to: –
www.csp.org.uk/conditions/incontinence – Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Find details of physiotherapists near you who specialise in continence problems.