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Physical Therapy for the Pelvic Floor

Published: February 12, 2014

Written by: Meghana Gowda, MD & Katherine M. Oxford, DPT- Virginia Urology Women’s Health

Many Americans have utilized the benefits of physical therapy. Physical therapy has been well established in the successful treatment of musculoskeletal conditions such as lower back or neck pain. However, it can also be a useful treatment approach for pelvic floor disorders. Overactive bladder, urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and even pelvic pain can potentially be managed this way. Specifically, physical therapy for the pelvic floor muscle complex can help to coordinate weak muscles and improve overall bladder function and control.

Pelvic floor physical therapy is widely considered a first line option for the non- surgical treatment of urinary incontinence. And although Kegel (pelvic floor muscle) exercises are helpful, studies show that a formal physical therapy program with medical supervision is successful. A major benefit of pelvic physical therapy is that it is a low-risk intervention without harmful or bothersome side effects.

A course of physical therapy may enable a patient to avoid surgery and may reveal superior results over medication in the long term. At Virginia Urology Women’s Health, physicians work closely with two board certified staff physical therapists with a combined experience level of over 25 years. These PTs specialize in the treatment of women’s health issues. Our shared goal is to offer and explore a variety of treatment options with the patient’s concerns in mind.


Hay-Smith, J, Dumoulin, C. Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD005654. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005654.