Your pelvic floor is a series of 3 layers of muscles lining the base of your pelvis. These muscles are in charge of bowel, bladder, and sexual function. If they are not performing well, people can develop problems in any one, or even all, of these functions. This can be very disruptive to your lifestyle, causing pain, incontinence, or constipation. Your pelvic floor physical therapist will help you learn where these muscles are, their role in your everyday function, and tips for reaching all of your goals.
A major component of pelvic floor physical therapy is an internal vaginal or rectal assessment. This will help your pelvic floor physical therapist determine how well those muscles are functioning, and you will be prescribed your own personal pelvic floor exercise program.
While an internal pelvic assessment may sound scary, most people find it to be very comfortable. You will be undressed from the waist down with a sheet draped around you, lying comfortably on a treatment table. One gloved and lubricated finger is used to assess how well your pelvic floor muscles both contract and relax. This is performed at each of the 3 muscle layers. There is no speculum involved as in a gynecological exam. If at any time you are uncomfortable or wish for the assessment to be discontinued, you are more than welcome to tell your pelvic floor therapist. In addition, if you wish to have a loved one or partner present for the assessment, this is also encouraged and welcomed.
Because pelvic floor dysfunction can be accompanied by many other factors, your pelvic floor physical therapist will also likely perform a lumbar screen and will test the strength and function of your other core muscles. The appropriate function of these muscles is essential for optimum pelvic floor muscles, as they are all very closely related.