I am a specialist pelvic health physiotherapist working at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust in South London. I am also the co-creator of the pelvic floor muscle exercise app, Squeezy, and one of the founders of the pelvic health collaborative campaign group, #pelvicroar. Denise and I had a long and enthusiastic conversation in the summer, where we shared our interest in pelvic floor issues and in particular, the problems surrounding mesh implants for stress urinary incontinence.
Denise is one of the inspirational women that we have connected with in #pelvicroar and I am very much looking forward to her book. Elaine Miller, Emma Brockwell and I formed #pelvicroar as we are aware that there are many campaigners working on fantastic projects in the field of pelvic health yet so often, the work is lost among the vast amount of information that is found on the internet. We wanted to find a way to bring these campaigns and projects together to make these vital messages heard by more and more men and women.
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Denise is in agreement with us that conditions such as pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence should never be viewed as normal. We all want to get the message across to women that symptoms can and should be treated and an excellent place to start is pelvic floor muscle exercises and physiotherapy. Squeezy was created to support men and women with a pelvic floor muscle exercise programme and is the top-selling, paid medical app in the UK. It can be set with a personalised programme when you have seen a specialist physiotherapist, and it comes pre-set with a standard, evidence-based exercise programme. It also has personalised reminders as we all know that remembering to do these vital exercises can be a challenge! Another excellent source of information on pelvic floor exercises can be found at the website of our specialist physiotherapy organisation, pogp.csp.org.uk.
Do you find yourself struggling to work out how to do your pelvic floor exercises? Do you feel as if you are not improving or feel that your progress has plateaued? Then ask your GP to refer you to a specialist pelvic health physiotherapist, or visit one privately. A personalised examination and individualised programme is very helpful. It can also help to discuss your own particular activities and goals, and make sure that your programme is working towards those.
Alongside pelvic floor muscle exercises it is important to look after your pelvic floor in other ways. Avoiding constipation and keeping a healthy weight can all help. Exercises such as Yoga and Pilates can be very positive for the pelvic floor, whilst stress incontinence during activities such as running can be helped hugely by wearing pessaries such as Contifom or Incostress. Conservative treatments should certainly be explored before any consideration of surgery and most importantly of all, do seek treatment and do not simply put up with your symptoms!