I recently wrote about my experiences with post-partum physical therapy, and some of the benefits and process I went through. I got a lot of questions about do you need to have had a baby to have pelvic floor or pelvic issues.
The answer is absolutely! Any person – man or woman – can experience pelvic floor issues. Anyone is able to see a pelvic floor physical therapist; there is no need to have had a child to sustain pelvic floor damage or degradation. Symptoms include incontinence or the frequent need to urinate, painful intercourse, and commonly, otherwise unexplained and persistent core/back pain or strength/weakness issues. Uniquely for men, pelvic floor muscle issues can express themselves as urinary or erectile dysfunction or prostatitis.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is commonly caused by pregnancy, but can also be triggered by traumatic injury to the pelvic area (like a car accident or major fall), obesity, advancing age (all of our muscles need tending to as we age), overuse or straining of the pelvic floor muscles (like using the bathroom too frequently or straining while using the bathroom).
Pelvic floor issues generally do not go away over time; in fact, they tend to become more persistent and severe with aging. This makes sense, since all our body functions tend to deteriorate with age, if we do not pay attention to maintaining strength and mobility. These issues do require attention, but issues can be tackled with a range of treatments, including physical therapy, medication, or in extreme cases, surgery.
It can be embarrassing to discuss symptoms with your provider, however, it is truly worthwhile addressing any issues early. Many of these issues can be mitigated with small changes, leading to a large improvement in quality of life. It is well worth your time to have an open conversation with your health care provider if you think you might benefit from exploring pelvic care with a PT.