Adolescence is a scary time, full of uncertainty, social pressure and need for independence. It’s also the time some girls discover they have pain or discomfort with tampon use. When this happens they often are too embarrassed to ask anyone for help and just think they must not be ready for them. They convince themselves they must be doing something wrong and decide to just opt for pads. Often times this is the earliest warning sign that a pelvic floor dysfunction exists. Unfortunately, over time if left untreated, the pelvic floor dysfunction can get worse, affecting other bodily functions.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can cause problems with bowel evacuation, urination and sexual activity. It’s easy to see why your teenager may not share these problems with you until they become troublesome. But as with any issue, it is much easier to address early on.
What is the
pelvic floor, and what causes it to be dysfunctional?
The pelvic floor is the muscle layer that lines the inside of the pelvis and makes up the floor of the boney pelvis. The pelvic floor is also comprised of connective tissue, nerves and blood vessels. Among other responsibilities, the pelvic floor provides support for your internal organs and helps one stay clean and dry. The pelvic floor becomes dysfunctional when it doesn’t work as it should. This occurs when muscles are too tight, too loose, too underactive or too overactive.
A physical therapist with training in pelvic floor dysfunction can help you determine the cause of your pelvic problem and guide you through treatment to correct the problem. Patients are educated regarding healthy bowel and bladder habits, proper toileting positions, reduction of postural tension, proper movement patterns, proper breathing patterns, proper posture, and a home program for flexibility and strengthening. Additionally, manual soft tissue mobilization of the pelvic muscles is often performed to address shortened musculature. Since this is an internal vaginal technique, it’s only a part of the treatment plan if the patient is 18 years of age. Other options for self-treatment at home involve a pelvic wand. Treatment frequency varies depending on complexity, but patients are most commonly seen weekly for two to six months.
Do you need
pelvic floor rehabilitation?
It’s important to listen to the little cues your teen is giving you. While you may not be privy to their bathroom habits, it is easy to pick up on excessive bathroom trips, road trip fluid restriction, insistence on wearing pads, significant menstrual pain or spending a long time in the bathroom for bowel movements. You might be surprised at how much they open up to you!
To get started, talk to your doctor about your concerns and ask for a referral to the Tallahassee Memorial Pelvic Floor Rehabilitation Program. Referrals can be accepted from your primary care physician, gynecologist, urologist, gastroenterologist or nurse practitioner.
For more information about pelvic floor rehabilitation, call Tallahassee Memorial Outpatient Orthopedic Rehabilitation at 850-431-7115 or visit TMH.ORG/Rehab.