By Nanci Winterhalter, MSPT
I have invited a guest contributor to address an important topic we don’t usually talk that much about — your pelvic health.
Justina Perry is the owner of Oshun Physical Therapy & Pelvic Health in New Bedford. With her strong orthopedic background and pelvic floor expertise, we’re happy to have her answer some questions for our readers!
Here’s a quick Q&A.
Nanci: When you say “pelvic floor,” what do you mean?
Justina: The pelvic floor is the group of muscles extending from the front of the pelvis to the tailbone that hold up the organs (the bladder, bowel, and uterus) inside the pelvis. It also stabilizes your pelvis, contracts to keep you continent and relaxes for sexual pleasure. You might be surprised by how much your pelvic floor does for you 24/7!
Nanci: What are some signs of pelvic floor dysfunction?
Justina: Pelvic floor dysfunction is incredibly common, especially for women. Bowel or bladder leakage, difficulty emptying the bowel or bladder, urinary frequency and urgency, pelvic pain, heaviness or even a sensation like something is falling out are some of the most common signs. Good news: if you have difficulties, a pelvic floor physical therapist can help you improve your pelvic floor function.
Nanci: Why do pelvic floor problems arise?
Justina: Some causes of weak or injured pelvic floor muscles may include childbirth, illness, surgery, aging, or cancer. Retraining this muscle group is as important as if you had trauma to another body part.
Nanci: So how did you get interested in pelvic floor physical therapy?
Justina: My first introduction to pelvic floor physical therapy was actually when I attended a conference as a Doctoral student. Afterward, I wanted to learn everything I could about the pelvic floor and I pursued clinicals, mentorship and specialized training and my passion for women’s health grew.
Nanci: What do you enjoy most about working with those with pelvic floor problems?
Justina: Most of my patients have been dealing with these issues for years so it feels good to be able to give them hope and the tools to empower them in their rehab. This area of healthcare is very underserved and so these patients often don’t get the help that they deserve.
Nanci: What do you want women to know about pelvic health?
Justina: I want anyone reading this to know that pelvic conditions are common but not normal. No one should wait to receive pelvic physical therapy and no one should need to feel embarrassed by pelvic conditions. Another thing to know is that it’s never too late to get help for these problems that occur throughout the lifespan. You can learn more at www.oshunpt.com.
“Won’t you be my neighbor?” columnist Nanci Winterhalter, MSPT, is a certified yoga teacher and therapist.