This is the question I've been asked most frequently upon starting my business. What is women's health (or pelvic health) physical therapy? Depending on my audience, I will give differing responses.
Say, it's one of my husband's male coworkers.....
"Women's health is a physical therapy specialty treating mainly conditions that occur in women, such as pregnancy-related pain, postpartum pain......." eyes glaze over before I even finish my sentence and then I usually get some mansplaination, such as "Oh yeah, I had to have physical therapy once, when I sprained my ankle playing softball. Had to get back for the team, playoffs". Priorities right?
Or maybe it's an older female relative of mine...
"What do you do again honey?"
"I actually just started my own women's health physical therapy business".
"That's wonderful! Now, what is that again?"
"Well, Aunt Doris, I am specialize in treating women who have conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth, such as incontinence, diastasis recti, pelvic organ prolapse, or pelvic pain."
"Isn't that what Depends are for?"
"No, Aunt Doris, physical therapy can actually cure incontinence, so you wouldn't need adult diapers anymore".
"Oh really?, But did you see the new patterns they came out with?
And therein lies the issue, there is not a whole lot of understanding of what women's health physical therapy is, from men or women. Most people understand orthopedic physical therapy, pediatric physical therapy, or even geriatric physical therapy without a huge long explanation of what they do or who they treat. We as a specialty need to get the word out there to the general public. The problem is that there is a stigma associated with many of these conditions. Who likes to talk about incontinence with their friends over dinner and drinks?
Luckily, incontinence has been gaining traction in the media, as Crossfit has been publicizing urine leakage in their female athletes as a badge of honor. While this does serve to destigmatize incontinence, it is also normalizing it as a common condition among female athletes. Just because its common does not make it normal, but that's another post for another day.
When I talk to fellow mom, I usually try to give more specific details so that they know that there is help out there, whether it is from me or another physical therapist.
And the conversation usually goes like this...
"Aaargh, I hate doing these (burpees). I'm just going to run to the bathroom."
"You know that physical therapy can help with that?"
"Really, with peeing my pants?!?"
"Yes, of course, just like any other muscle group the pelvic floor can be rehabbed to perform like it did before childbirth."
"My ob/gyn said it's just a factor of having two kids."
"It is certainly common after two kids, but it does not need to last for the rest of your life. The pelvic floor can be strengthened like any other muscle group."
"Oh, that would be life-changing! If only I had time for that".
Riiiiiight, If only you had the time. I usually have to bite my tongue at this point. As I know that they could make the time if it was important to them, they just have not made it a priority in their life...............................yet. The time will come.
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