How do I know if I have pelvic floor dysfunction?

This is a question I hear frequently from women who attend my workshops and who I’ve worked with one on one. There has been growing interest in the pelvic floor in general over the last few years which is creating the space to dialogue about what a ‘healthy’ pelvic floor looks like. The best person to advocate for your health is YOU which is why I want to go more in depth with an introduction of a tool for self-screening that can help you identify if you might have pelvic floor dysfunction.

The pelvic floor muscles do all sorts of important things for us in our daily life including keeping you leak free, having easy bowel movements, enjoying your sex life, birthing babies, and playing a key role in balance and hip function. Just like any other muscle group in the body, these muscles can become injured or work less than optimally. And just like any other muscle group in the body, they can heal. That’s right- You don’t have to live with leaks the rest of your life because you’ve had a baby. And for many women, myself included, pelvic floor problems can start without having ever experiencing a pregnancy.

At least 50% of women will experience dysfunction of their pelvic floor muscles during their lifetime and pelvic floor dysfunction can impact women at any stage of their life whether they have given birth or not. The Cozean Pelvic Dysfunction Screening Protocol was created to help you identify some of the most common red flags of dysfunction. This tool is not gender specific so some characteristics like multiple births and birth trauma have been left out although they will impact your pelvic floor function. If you check 3+ circles below, you likely have pelvic floor dysfunction that could be positively impacted through pelvic floor specific physical therapy.

Cozean Screening Tool by Nicole Cozean of Pelvic Sanity

Get to know your body, recognize your own red flags, and start a conversation with your healthcare provider about your concerns. It is likely that your general practitioner and even your OBGYN have little background of the depth and breadth of pelvic floor dysfunction and how it can be positively impacted through movement and manual based therapies. Again, more dialogue is happening within the medical community and elsewhere about pelvic floor dysfunction so hopefully they are on board and have some names of providers to check out. If you find them to be unsupportive, don’t be afraid to get a second opinion or seek out a Physical Therapist directly. YOU are your best health advocate.

Dr. Megan Anderson PT, DPT is an integrative women’s health focused PT. Integrating the practices of western based physical therapy with mindfulness, meditation, and mind-body medicine she helps her clients heal pelvic floor dysfunction and learn how to connect and ground in our disconnected, busy world. The Megan Anderson Physical Therapy clinic is located in Alexandria, Virginia.

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