Sexual dysfunction influence a woman’s quality of life and relationship with her partner. For example, women with genito-pelvic penetration/pain disorder (GPPPD) have painful involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles during vaginal entry, such as vaginismus and dyspareunia. The causes of GPPPD involve both physiological and psychological factors. These conditions may be present from the first experience with penetration, such as tampon insertion. In other cases, the symptoms develop later in life.
How does Physical Therapy treat Genito-Pelvic Penetration/Pain Disorder?
Pelvic floor physical therapy works to modify the tone of the pelvic floor muscles through evidence-based techniques such as muscle training, manual therapy, as well as electrical and ultrasound stimulation. The PT may also guide a patient through the use of vaginal dilators to increase penetration tolerance.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Training
Muscle training works to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and relieve pain. For example, Kegel exercises improve symptoms that stem from weak muscles. Along with training from the physical therapist, biofeedback can help patients become more aware of their pelvic floor muscles by providing feedback on the exercises. The PT can guide patients in using vaginal dilators, which gradually stretch the vagina and improve mobility. Your physical therapist will be able to determine if you need to strengthen your pelvic floor, stretch your pelvic floor, or both.
With manual therapy, the PT performs a series of external and internal techniques on the affected muscles. For example, she gently stretches the pelvic floor muscles to stimulate myofascial release. Likewise, massage and pressure reduce referred pain from latent trigger points. The therapist can also soothe external tension in the pelvis through connective tissue manipulation.
The physical therapist stimulates the pelvic floor muscles through thermotherapy, electro-stimulation, and therapeutic ultrasound. The application of heat relaxes the muscles and increases tissue resilience. Electro-therapy uses a low-grade current to stimulate the muscles to contract.
Referring for Genito-Pelvic Penetration/Pain Disorder
Pelvic floor physical therapy is an essential element in a multidisciplinary treatment approach. A PT spends time with the patient and can identify the underlying causes of Genito-pelvic penetration/pain disorder. Our pelvic floor specialist, Dr. Rachel Feldman, is well versed in women’s health. To make a referral, call our office at 201-833-1333.