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Women’s Health Physiotherapists: The Female Anatomy Whisperer

Within the world of pelvic health, we are known by a plethora of names;  pelvic health physio, women’s health physio, pelvic floor physio, physical therapist, physiotherapist, are just a few!

Every physiotherapist has to complete the necessary degree to earn the title, however, some of us have pursued additional postgraduate studies in our areas of interest, similar to doctors specialising in fields, like gynaecology or endocrinology.

For this reason, it stands to reason that if you are having issues with your pelvic health, you reach out to a women’s health physiotherapist, to help make sense of the symptoms you are feeling.

Armed with that knowledge, let’s debunk some misconceptions about who we are and what we do!

MYTH 1: IT’S ALL ABOUT KEGELS

Repeat after me: my pelvic health is more than Kegels.

Pelvic health extends beyond Kegels. While pelvic floor muscles play a role, support comes from ligaments, tissues, and fascia as well.

Performing an excessive amount of Kegels, let’s say 300 per day, may not necessarily guarantee improved pelvic health. Comprehensive pelvic health involves advice and education on breathing and movement strategies, optimising bladder and bowel habits, mindfulness, sleep, and routine optimisation. In essence, this goes beyond Kegel exercises, and sometimes, the solution lies outside the pelvic realm.

MYTH 2: YOU CAN ASSESS THE STATUS OF MY PELVIC HEALTH THROUGH A SCAN OR EXTERNAL EXAMINATION

Let’s debunk this myth. Assessing pelvic health goes beyond external examinations or scans. Just as you would expect a dentist to have a look inside your mouth for a check-up, the gold standard for pelvic health assessment is an internal vaginal exam. This allows us to determine:

  • Muscle, ligament, and fascia strength (support)
  • Pelvic floor muscle tone or tension
  • Presence of sore points
  • Proper bladder and bowel habits (Yes, we can assess this!)
  • Position of pelvic organs

With your consent, we perform an internal exam that enables us to properly evaluate by feeling and understanding your pelvic floor‘s story, aligning with your symptoms. Remember that you can decline, and we offer alternatives to this.

MYTH 3: IT’S GENETICS…NOTHING CAN BE DONE

What’s true is that genetics may play a role – if your mother or grandmother suffered from prolapse or urinary incontinence, you may be susceptible as well. However, this does not mean that there is nothing you can do. We can address modifiable risk factors that may be contributing to your symptoms. See the first myth to understand how we can help!

MYTH 4: ALL PHYSIOTHERAPISTS CAN PERFORM PELVIC FLOOR EXAMS

Not all physiotherapists are trained to conduct pelvic floor exams. Women’s health physiotherapists, at the very least, have completed a five-day introductory course or pursued postgraduate studies to qualify to perform pelvic floor exams. These may be performed through vaginal or rectal exams. Before undergoing any assessment, be sure to ask about the qualifications of your therapist first. You can check out ours here.

MYTH 5: MY DOCTOR SAID PHYSIOTHERAPY WON’T HELP

Let’s be honest here – we have a mix of both great and not-so-great research on where women’s health physiotherapy can come in for treatment, and the same applies to modern medicine. Did you know that women face an 11% risk of undergoing at least one pelvic organ prolapse (POP) surgery by the age of 79 (Miedel et al., 2008)? However, the long-term success rate following surgical correction of POP can be quite disheartening. A prospective study revealed that 41% of women experienced a recurrence of POP within five years, with 10% undergoing a repeat POP operation within the same timeframe (Olsen et al., 1997).

So, if your doctor dismisses the treatment of physiotherapy, w encourage you to do your own research from evidence-based options. Reaching out to ask questions from our physiotherapists themselves is welcomed! We would love to have the opportunity to help doctors reconsider their stance with the research available and with consent, share some of our patients’ journeys with physiotherapy.

 

MYTH 6: WOMEN’S HEALTH PHYSIOTHERAPY IS ONLY FOR PREGNANT OR POSTNATAL WOMEN

This is false. We are all born with a pelvic floor— men included. This pelvic floor goes through day-to-day use. Did you know that Ingrid Nygaard and her team (1994) studied female athletes at an average age of 20 years and discovered that one-third of them experienced urinary incontinence during sports? These girls have never been pregnant or have given birth. The highest incidence was observed among trampolinists, gymnasts, and ballerinas.

On that note, maybe it’s time to schedule an appointment with our women’s health physiotherapists and have a routine checkup!

If you have any questions or comments, please call or WhatsApp us at 9780 7274, or get in touch by email at help@embracephysio.sg to learn about what we do!

Feel free to look through our website, where you can learn about other women’s health conditions we treat. This is a safe space where we can discuss how we can help you with physiotherapy.

Note: While I am a physiotherapist, I am not your personal physiotherapist. The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to serve as individual medical advice.

Reference:

  1. Miedel A, Tegerstedt G, Mörlin B, Hammarström M. A 5-year prospective follow-up study of vaginal surgery for pelvic organ prolapse. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2008;19(12):1593-1601.
  2. Olsen AL, Smith VJ, Bergstrom JO, Colling JC, Clark AL. Epidemiology of surgically managed pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence. Obstet Gynecol. 1997;89(4):501-506.
  3. Nygaard IE, Thompson FL, Svengalis SL, Albright JP. Urinary incontinence in elite nulliparous athletes. Obstet Gynecol. 1994 Aug;84(2):183-7. Erratum in: Obstet Gynecol 1994 Sep;84(3):342. PMID: 8041527.
  4. https://www.embracephysio.sg/what-is-the-pelvic-floor/
  5. https://www.embracephysio.sg/what-is-a-pelvic-floor-exam/
5 Star Google Reviews
Embrace Physiotherapy is committed to 5 star client satisfaction.

I’ve been working with Brenda Lee since the start of my pregnancy, through to my post partum recovery. Brenda is knowledgeable, patient and encouraging. I felt comfortable at every consult and I leave with a peace of mind too knowing that I don’t need to stress about remembering what exercises to do too but can check an app for my tailored program. The program is manageable even throughout my breathless third trimester days and as a new mum with little time on my hands. The clinic is also well equipped, not just to help with stretches and strength exercises, but also for doing mum things when you have to bring baby. There’s a diaper changing station and comfy chairs at the reception if you need to nurse + the team are just lovely with babies. Sometimes you just gotta bring baby and it helps so much to be welcomed here.

Audrey Lim Avatar Audrey Lim
October 31, 2023

I saw Preet throughout my pregnancy and postnatal period. She is the BEST. She saved my body and provides free emotional support whole she's at it. Preet obviously knows what she's doing and could identify the root source of the pain and assigned exercises to address it. She also doesn't make you feel bad if you fail to do them. I highly, highly recommend Embrace.

Jana Shih Avatar Jana Shih
December 15, 2023

I had some sessions with Preet from half of my pregnancy to 7 months and it was a total relief. During pregnancy, Preet helps me with sciatic nerve and after delivery she helped me with c-section scar and perineal floor. It was each time a total relief. Preet and her staff are very kind. You can go without asking question!

Corinne GRONDIN Avatar Corinne GRONDIN
January 15, 2024

Embrace life. Embrace Physiotherapy.

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