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Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy: What to Expect

Updated: Mar 23

March 16, 2024

Erin MS Warner




So…you’ve been told to go to pelvic floor physical therapy, or PFPT for short. Or maybe you’ve been reading some things online and wonder if seeing a PFPT would be helpful. Good! Great!

Now what?


If you’ve ever attended typical physical therapy, then you have a pretty good idea of what to expect. PFPT is orthopedic physical therapy. Pelvic floor muscles are musculoskeletal muscles – they’re just small…and super personal. 


As with any physical therapy, a physical therapist (PT) will evaluate you, doing specific tests and measures to see what is working, what isn’t working well, and then develop a plan of care (POC) to guide the following sessions and provide “homework,” or home exercises, so that you can return to your previous functional level (even if it was 20 years ago when you felt “normal”). From there, either the PT or a PTA (a physical therapist assistant – they can do pretty much anything a PT can, except the evaluation and certain manual techniques, in brief) will follow that POC and reassess throughout the process.


For the initial evaluation, you may have to fill out certain waivers and surveys like you would at any other medical/doctor’s office. This helps guide the PT in their evaluation. You’ll also speak about your symptoms, your history, and your goals; then the PT will do their tests/measures to determine what your current function is.


It’s important to note that even though this type of physical therapy deals with such a private and personal area, it is completely up to you how you are to be tested. Meaning, oftentimes a PT will do an external and an internal evaluation (anterior or posterior, depending on the situation), but it is not always possible or necessary. An indirect evaluation and POC can happen, the results just may take a bit longer.


Finally, the common thought on people’s minds when thinking of PFPT is, is it emotional? 


Sometimes when finding out what’s wrong physiologically with ourselves, we discover many emotional symptoms or issues too. It can happen. (If you want a good book to dig into this topic more, consider reading The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.) But trauma isn’t always directly related to the pelvic floor. Pain is weird, and hard, and it often creates bad habits. And people are complex. Sometimes you can heal more than just a muscle. PFPT tries to teach how to create a new, efficient habit so as to live a better life.


Thanks for reading.


Erin MS Warner is a Physical Therapist Assistant and a Pilates Instructor and has been trying to help people feel more like themselves for the last seven years.


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