Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do men have pelvic floors?
A: Yes! The term pelvic floor refers to the group of muscles that sit in the base of the pelvis, present in both men and women. The muscles sit in a slightly different orientation than women, since men have a narrower pelvis. Both men and women can experience problems with the muscles that lead to unwanted symptoms such as incontinence and pelvic pain.
Q: Is an internal pelvic floor muscle assessment like going to the doctor for a pap smear/prostate exam/general wellness visit?
A: No. When you see the doctor, he or she is not typically assessing the muscles of the pelvic floor during a vaginal or rectal exam. Doctors are usually looking for abnormal growths and masses. Pelvic floor physical therapists are specifically trained to assess the tone, strength, and range of motion of the muscles. During a speculum exam for women, the pelvic floor muscles are not palpable or visible due to the speculum pressed against the vaginal wall.
Q: What if I’m not comfortable with an internal assessment?
A: You can still come to PT! While the most detailed information about the pelvic floor muscles can be ascertained from an internal assessment, there are lots of details in the history you provide, your posture, and other movement patterns that can give your PT insight to what may be going on and get you started with treatment you are comfortable with.
Q: Should I cancel if I’m on my period?
A: No, please come in! Internal treatment can be done at any time during the menstrual cycle but this is completely up to the patient. If you are not comfortable with internal work during menstruation, come to your appointment and we’ll work on strengthening, stretching, posture, and all the other pieces that make up a healthy pelvic floor.
Q: I just had a baby and need to see a pelvic floor PT postpartum. Can I bring my baby?
A: Yes please! This is a baby friendly place. If your baby is content to play on a blanket on the floor while you are treated, great. If your baby cries and wants to nurse the entire time and we practice good posture while feeding, great. If your baby wants to be held the whole time and we trade off holding and exercising, great. We’ll make it work!
Q: Do I need anything specific if I’m pregnant?
A: There are many reasons to see a pelvic floor PT while pregnant. Some patients need help with pelvic and back pain while others have urinary leaking. Not all pregnant women will need an internal assessment but if this is advised, a note from the OB or midwife is needed for clearance.
Q: Isn’t some urinary leaking just part of normal aging?
A: Nope! It’s very common, but not normal. Both men and women may experience urinary leaking later in life. Many people do not seek care because they think it is something they have to live with or their situation isn’t severe enough. Incontinence does not have to be full bladder loss. Any urinary leaking is not normal, even if it’s just a few drops.
Q: Is pelvic floor physical therapy just doing “kegels?”
A: No! Kegels, or a squeeze contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, may be a part of physical therapy, but they are never the only thing a patient is given to work on. In fact, some patients have leaking because their muscles are too tight, and performing kegels only tightens the muscles more, sometimes making the leaking worse. These patients are given relaxation exercises to begin. The only way to know if kegels are appropriate and if you are doing them correctly is to be assessed by a pelvic floor physical therapist.