What is Women’s Health Physiotherapy?


I’d like to open this article by introducing our newest team member, Kirsty Docwra MCSP HCPC BSc (Hons), our Associate Physiotherapist Practitioner in Women’s Health!


Kirsty graduated from Sheffield Hallam University in 2006 and since then has worked in a variety of Musculoskeletal outpatient settings including the NHS and Private practice.


Kirsty’s area of clinical expertise lies in treating musculoskeletal conditions and injuries, including pregnancy-related back and pelvic pain. She also specialises in pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, including symptoms of vaginal prolapse and bladder weakness in females. Kirsty recently advanced her practice by completing a course in menopause management, provided by Positive Pause and the POGP (Pelvic Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy). Kirsty is passionate about helping return ladies to a full and active lifestyle.


Kirsty lives with her husband, 3 children and springer spaniel. If she gets any spare time, she enjoys walking, exploring and paddle boarding around the Lake District.


So, what exactly IS women’s health physiotherapy?


Kirsty’s incredible pedigree has given us a clue or two!


In simple terms women’s health physiotherapy is the treatment of conditions specific to women, like, among others, pregnancy, postnatal and post-surgery care and menopause. Sadly, female health is still a taboo topic leaving many women convinced that they should ‘suffer through’ pain and discomfort that could be effectively treated.

Here are some statistics which may or may not surprise you:


● 1 in 3 women experience incontinence in the UK

● 1 in 2 women will develop a pelvic organ prolapse post-birth

● 64% of women experience sexual problems up to six months postpartum


These symptoms are not and should not be considered a ‘normal’ part of being a woman! Fellside Physiotherapy is committed to assessing and treating women’s health in an open, friendly and supportive environment.


Bladder and Bowel Incontinence


Incontinence is a very common problem that many women are often too embarrassed to discuss, whether with friends, family or medical professionals and as a result suffer in silence. It can have a devastating effect on self-esteem and overall quality of life. We want women to feel confident and live life to the absolute fullest and with the right treatment they can do that! It all starts with a listening ear so please get in touch with us for a chat about how we can help treat your incontinence.


What you can do now!


● Work those pelvic floor muscles! You’ve heard of kegels? Maybe you already incorporate them into your daily routine? If not, they’re simple to do - aim to contract your pelvic floor muscles in a series of long and short squeezes, always relaxing after each ‘go’. Why not try a series of 10 short squeezes followed by 10 longer squeezes, three times a day and test how much stronger your pelvic floor feels over the next few months. TOP TIP - set a daily reminder in your phone and you’ll never forget your kegels!


Menopause


Generally speaking, between the ages of 45-55 a woman will stop having regular periods. Oestrogen production declines and the ovaries will stop releasing an egg each month. It’s a completely natural stage in a woman’s life but more often than not it’s treated like something that should be whispered about and endured. Women suffer in the workplace because of an unwillingness to openly discuss ways to support and help menopausal women through this process.


Falling oestrogen levels can cause:

● Vaginal dryness and itching and discomfort when emptying the bladder

● More frequent urinary tract infections

● Incontinence when sneezing, laughing or moving suddenly

● Bleeding after sex


What you can do now!


● Wear breathable, cotton underwear and avoid very tight fitting clothes

● Avoid using heavily scented soaps and gels when washing your intimate area as they can prove very drying

● Don’t over wash! This can negatively affect your delicate PH balance

● Invest in some vaginal moisturiser but bear in mind that some brands are more suitable than others so some experimentation may be called for!

● A good lube will help you enjoy sex again - similarly to vaginal moisturiser, different brands will suit different people so shop around until the find the one that suits you best.


Vaginal prolapse


This happens when a vaginal wall or the top of the vagina moves downwards and causes a bulging at the entrance to the vagina. This is very common and occurs as a result of a weakening of the vaginal muscles. It can happen to women who have had children and those who haven’t and is also associated with age, genetics, obesity and lifestyle. It can be really uncomfortable, causing bladder leakage, bowel problems and painful sex. However, this is a very individual issue, and not all prolapses are the same!


What you can do now!


● Get going with those pelvic floor exercises! These are fantastic for strengthening the vaginal wall and we’d be more than happy to advise on how to do them successfully

● Lifestyle changes can really help - for starters, a healthy diet can help reduce those annoying associated bowel symptoms. Being constipated may make things worse so adding more fruit and veg to your diet will definitely loosen things up!

● Attend all of your regular cervical screening appointments

● Try to avoid activities that worsen prolapse symptoms - like high impact exercise, heavy lifting or repetitive bending.


How WE can help!


We hope this quick run through of women’s health physio has been helpful, particularly the things you can do right now to help yourself!


We are here to reassure, advise and support so please get in touch with us if you have any queries or concerns and we will do our very best to help.


We will carry out an initial assessment, taking a detailed history of your medical concerns and treatment goals.


We will then create an individual action plan tailored to your specific needs. This will include a combination of treatment and a personalised management plan that will get you on your way to better health!

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