Pelvic floor exercises are not always the treatment of choice for all pelvic floor problems.
Scientific studies support pelvic floor exercises for treatment of women suffering from stress urinary incontinence or mild to moderate pelvic organ prolapse.
There are however some specific instances where women should avoid pelvic floor exercises, for the short-term at least.
Read on now to learn when to avoid pelvic floor exercises.
1. With Pelvic Floor Muscle Tension
Pelvic floor muscle tension occurs when the pelvic floor muscles spasm and become unable to relax.
Pelvic floor muscle tension may cause pelvic floor symptoms including pelvic pain, pelvic floor weakness, bladder/bowel and sexual dysfunction.
Pelvic floor exercises can exacerbate pelvic floor tension and worsen or perpetuate these symptoms.
If you have pelvic floor muscle tension avoid pelvic floor exercises and intense core abdominal exercises until you can voluntarily relax your pelvic floor muscles.
A graduated program of pelvic floor exercises may be gradually introduced in some cases when your symptoms ease and you can relax your pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy can treat and assist recovery from pelvic floor muscle tension.
2. Immediately After Prolapse Surgery
Pelvic floor exercises are usually avoided during early recovery from prolapse surgery.
Prolapse surgery involves internal sutures to repair pelvic floor tissues. Most women require sufficient time to allow for the pelvic floor tissues to heal before commencing postoperative pelvic floor exercise rehabilitation.
If you’ve had prolapse surgery refrain from pelvic floor strengthening until you have obtained your surgeon’s approval to commence pelvic floor exercise. This is usually around 6-8 weeks after surgery but can vary from one woman to the next. Progressive pelvic floor strengthening is the best approach after prolapse surgery.
Ideally your long-term management after prolapse surgery should include regular pelvic floor exercises to maintain pelvic floor strength and support, and minimise the risk of new pelvic floor problems developing.
3. With 3rd or 4th Degree Tearing After Childbirth
The pelvic floor muscles and tissues may be torn during vaginal delivery. 3rd and 4th degree tearing involves damage to the pelvic floor muscles surrounding the anal canal and anal sphincter respectively.
Pelvic floor strengthening exercises are not usually recommended for at least 6 weeks in cases of 3rd and 4th degree tearing to allow for healing of sutured tissues.
Pelvic floor recovery after more severe 3rd and 4th degree tearing is ideally undertaken under the supervision of a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist.
If you’ve experienced 3rd or 4th degree tearing you may be initially encouraged to perform gentle pulses of your pelvic floor muscles to increase blood flow and reduce swelling for healing.
Pelvic floor strengthening exercises are usually recommended for long-term pelvic floor recovery from severe tearing associated with childbirth. Progressive pelvic floor exercises may be commenced from around 6 weeks following delivery but only with the approval of your treating obstetrician.
4. With Incorrect Pelvic Floor Exercise Technique
Studies reveal that many women perform the incorrect pelvic floor exercise technique.
Women often bear down with pelvic floor exercises rather than lifting and squeezing inwards, often without realising that they are making this mistake. Bearing down upon the pelvic floor can stretch and strain pelvic floor tissues causing pelvic floor weakness and making pelvic floor problems worse.
If you can’t feel your pelvic floor exercises, if you experience worsening symptoms or no improvement despite your pelvic floor exercises you may benefit from the guidance of a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist.
Physiotherapy can help you correct your pelvic floor exercise technique and provide you with exercise guidelines to help you get the most benefit from your routine.
Key Points For When To Avoid Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises are the treatment of choice for some of the most commonly experienced pelvic floor problems.
There are however specific instances when pelvic floor exercises should be deferred;
- With pelvic floor muscle tension
- Immediately after prolapse surgery
- With severe tearing after childbirth
- With incorrect pelvic floor exercise technique
Pelvic floor physiotherapy can provide you with guidance for your long-term recovery from these pelvic floor problems.