Pelvic floor therapy can treat bladder, bowel and sexual function problems

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photo of woman performing yoga child pose

Many people suffer silently with the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, having convinced themselves that it’s normal to leak urine, have pain or experience sexual dysfunction. Too many have come to believe that they cannot be helped.

The good news is that pelvic floor therapy can help with many difficulties affecting the bladder and bowels, such as urinary and fecal incontinence or urgency, pelvic organ prolapse, pain with intercourse, bowel movements or urination, constipation, diarrhea, erectile dysfunction and more.

“Through behavior strategies, manual therapies, exercise and education, the patient can greatly improve their quality of life, reduce pain and regain control over their bowel and bladder,” says physical therapist Renee Genereux, PT, DPT, who specializes in pelvic floor therapy at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.

What is pelvic floor therapy?

Pelvic floor therapy is rehabilitation that focuses on the muscles of the pelvis, especially the ones that form the bottom of your pelvis and support your pelvic organs, such as the bowel, bladder and uterus.

Photo of therapist with model of pelvis
Roswell Park physical therapist Renée Genereux, DPT, specializes in helping patients overcome pelvic floor dysfunction.

Your pelvic floor muscles are the muscles you would use to stop your stream of urine or keep yourself from passing gas or having a bowel movement. Pelvic floor muscles are also important for sexual function in both men and women. When you have issues in these muscles, it can cause pain and problems with your bowels, bladder and sexual health.

Cancer treatments can cause issues in the function of your pelvic floor muscles, too. Chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy and surgery for gynecological cancers as well as cancer of the prostate, colon, rectum or bladder can result in issues that affect your bowel, bladder and sexual function. Consider these sobering facts:

  • As many as 30-50% of patients have pelvic floor dysfunction after treatment for gynecological cancers
  • About 75% of breast cancer survivors experience sexual dysfunction
  • Fewer than 33% of patients with fecal incontinence report this to their doctor

How we can help

Regardless of what might have caused your pelvic floor issues, we can help. Roswell Park offers private, one-on-one pelvic floor therapy. A session with Dr. Genereux offers a safe and private place to discuss these personal and important aspects of health. The sessions focus on relaxing or lengthening any tight muscles, strengthening any weak muscles, and learning how to activate your pelvic floor on your own.

If you are interested in a making an appointment, ask your Roswell Park physician for a referral, or call the rehabilitation department at 716-845-3271.

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