5 Common Misconceptions About Chronic Pelvic Physical Therapy

1. The only people needing to see a Pelvic PT are women after childbirth.

The interesting thing about this one, is that of the patients I treat, only about 5-10% are post-partum women! The other 90% includes young (with our youngest being 8 years old) to old (with our oldest being 95) men and women experiencing a big variety of symptoms: urinary incontinence, difficulties in urination, bowel incontinence, constipation, abdominal pain, low back/SI pain, sexual dysfunction, pelvic pain or coccyx pain, vaginal or rectal pain, penile or testicular pain, as well as men and women prior to or after having pelvic surgery.

2. Pelvic PTs do not treat men.

False. We treat many men. Now, I will admit that at our specific clinic, we see more women than men, but this is not true of every pelvic physical therapy clinic. Currently, I would estimate 20-30% of my schedule is men. The most common diagnoses we treat for men are post-prostatectomy related incontinence as well as variations of male pelvic pain—however, we also treat men with bowel dysfunction, sexual related pain, urinary dysfunction and tailbone pain.

3. If a person is leaking urine, they definitely need kegel exercises (pelvic floor strengthening).

We have discussed this in the past in other blog posts, but this really is a very common misconception I often have to fight with my patients. Urinary incontinence is a failed system, not just a failed muscle. From a musculoskeletal standpoint, a person needs a well-functioning pelvic floor muscle group, abdominal muscles, hip muscles, diaphragm and low back muscles. People need strong, but flexible muscles that tighten when they need to and relax when they need to.

4. If a person has tried “kegel exercises” and they did not work, Pelvic PT won’t be able to help them.

As a Pelvic PT, I take great offense to that… I mean, honestly, do you think I would need a doctoral degree, 100+ hours of additional continuing education, and a board specialization to teach a person Kegel exercises? That all to say, rehabilitation for the pelvis is much more involved than simply strengthening a muscle group.It involves restoring function—improving muscular support around the pelvis, improving behavioral/dietary habits, and re-training body movements to allow for optimal organ and structural function.

5.  your mother/grandmother/great-grandmother must be genetic and can’t be helped.

Also, not true! Now, I won’t say there aren’t genetic components which may cause a person to be more likely to experience certain conditions than others—but that being said, there is always something that can be done to help! It is important to work with a team of healthcare professionals including physicians, nurses, physical therapists, psychologists and nutritionists to ensure a person gets comprehensive and holistic care to achieve optimal health.