What On Earth Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?!!!

February 11, 2022

This is one of the most common questions I hear as a pelvic trained physical therapist. Whether it’s from patients at their initial PT session, or it’s from random people at a social setting, I find myself answering this question over and over again whenever I tell someone about my unique area of study.

The short answer is: pelvic floor physical therapy is here to care for any condition affecting the bowel, bladder, pelvic pain, and sexual function of all genders at any age in development. Pelvic floor physical therapy (AKA “pelvic health physical therapy”) has been traditionally associated with pregnancy and postpartum concerns. However, anyone with a penis or vulva can experience pelvic floor conditions. After all, every human has a pelvic floor!

The pelvic floor is the series of muscles that line the inner portion of the pelvis. The role of these muscles is to support and stabilize everything that is above them, i.e. the organs of the abdomen, trunk, neck and head. Additionally, the pelvic floor helps to lift everything below, i.e. the lower extremities. Essentially, the pelvic floor is the junction between our upper body and lower body.

Thus, the pelvic floor needs to be under involuntary and voluntary control. We need the pelvic floor to be strong enough to support the body to hold in our organs, urine, and stool during our daily life. While we are upright, gravity is pulling everything down toward the feet. The pelvic floor helps to keep us upright. Simultaneously, we need to be able to connect the signals between the brain and the pelvic floor in order to relax the pelvic floor to allow for urination, child birth, bowel movements, and sexual activity.

Like impairments of the shoulder or ankles that are more commonly associated with physical therapy, the pelvic floor can be injured and not function as it should. We call this “pelvic floor dysfunction.” However, instead of a rotator cuff tear in the shoulder, pelvic floor problems can show up as pelvic, groin, hip or low back pain, pain during sexual activity, urinary or fecal incontinence. 

Pelvic floor dysfunction can feel like sharp, radiating pelvic pain, pain at or inside the genitals. At times, it can feel like a dull ache or even just a lack of awareness of this area of your body. You may notice you leak urine when you sneeze or cough, can’t quite make it to the bathroom in time to void, or vaginal or penile pain leading up to, during, and/or following sexual activity.

Pelvic floor dysfunction can occur at any time during one’s life. Some common times include: during and after abdominal or pelvic surgery, long periods of constipation, car accidents, menopause, pregnancy, increases or decreases in physical activity, hormonal changes, changes to digestion or diet, cancer treatment, and the list goes on. 

If any of this sounds like something you are experiencing in your life or would like more information on, please come visit us at Activcore. We offer one-on-one patient visits in a private setting to help each one of our clients accomplish their goals.

To learn more, check out our Pelvic Health page.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Dr. Molly Weingart

Physical Therapist
Molly Weingart is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) who specializes in pelvic health, women's health, and general orthopedics. She works at Activcore in Princeton, New Jersey, located just 2 miles from Princeton University. With a passion for pelvic health, Molly believes in tailoring each patient’s treatment to fit that individual’s goals and lifestyle. She aims to normalize all health conditions and create a treatment environment that is open, accessible, and inclusive.
Read more

MORE BLOGS BY AUTHOR

All Blog Posts

Why Does My Physical Therapist Want To Know If Anything Has Ever Happened to My Abdomen?

Many of the patients I treat are coming to physical therapy for care of pelvic pain, low back pain or both. And one of the most useful things they can tell me during their evaluation or session is if, when and where they had an abdominal surgery, injury, or pregnancy history. Even if it was deemed minor and many years ago.

LEARN More

What On Earth Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy?!!!

This is one of the most common questions I hear as a pelvic trained physical therapist. Whether it’s from patients at their initial PT session, or it’s from random people at a social setting, I find myself answering this question over and over again whenever I tell someone about my unique area of study. The short answer is: pelvic floor physical therapy is here to care for any condition affecting the bowel, bladder, pelvic pain, and sexual function of all genders at any age in development.

LEARN More

Free Webinar: An Introduction to Urinary Incontinence and How Pelvic Floor PT Can Help

Do you need to rush to the bathroom when you hear running water or right after you park your car in the driveway? Ever pee, even a little, when you sneeze, cough, laugh, run, or jump? Do you have difficulty starting your stream of urine or need to go again right after you’ve peed? Check out this free webinar to learn how to control this.

LEARN More

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Cancer: My Perspective as a PT (and a Patient)

While only a part of my life’s story, I had breast cancer in 2017. I am grateful to report I’ve been in remission since October of the same year. I was lucky enough to have already been accepted to PT school and knew the need to have PT to prepare for surgery, regain function and strength after my surgeries, and combat the horrid fatigue that was associated with chemotherapy. Prior to my double mastectomy, I was a very flexible yoga practitioner. After my double mastectomy, I could not lift my arm above my shoulder.

LEARN More

FREE WEBINAR: Pelvic Health Physical Therapy and Its Implications in Breast Cancer Recovery

If you have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, have undergone treatment, or you are a cancer survivor or thriver, check out this free one-hour Zoom webinar about how breast cancer impacts your pelvic health and how physical therapy can address these impairments.

LEARN More