From incontinence to unusual period pain: WSLHD’s Bronwyn Edney’s expert tips for pelvic wellness

Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Senior Physiotherapist, Bronwyn Edney, has shared the most frequent health concerns women face, with bladder and bowel issues, including incontinence, being at top the list.

Incontinence can effect anyone of any age and has a lot of different causes.

Women also commonly seek medical assistance for conditions such as prolapse, pelvic pain, birthing-related back or pelvic pain, and diastasis recti (tummy muscle separation).

For Bronwyn and other women’s health specialists, the key message they want to share this Women’s Health Week is the importance of being informed about your health – specifically; understanding when discomfort is normal and when it signals a potential health issue.

“Discomfort around your menstrual cycle is very common for women,” Bronwyn said.

If it lasts only a day or 2, settles with pain relief, and doesn’t really stop you from doing your normal activities we would consider that ‘normal’ discomfort.

“If pain lasts more than a few days, if regular pain relief does not really help or pain is stopping you from going to school or work, then it is worth seeing your doctor for further investigations.

“Severe pain that comes on suddenly should also be checked out.”

It is important to take proactive measures to maintain positive pelvic health.

Bronwyn suggests:

  • Adopting a diet rich in fruits and vegetables with proper fluid intake for well-functioning bladder and bowels.
  • Stress management techniques to help minimise the impact of stress on pelvic floor muscles and bladder function. Regular physical activity not only manages stress but also indirectly strengthens pelvic floor muscles.
  • Pelvic floor exercises, focusing on both contraction and relaxation to help maintain pelvic muscle function.
  • Incorporating stretching and strengthening exercises for the muscles around the hips and pelvis to contribute to overall pelvic health.

If you are experiencing difficulties with continence, prolapse, or pelvic pain, Bronwyn suggests seeking the expertise of a pelvic health physiotherapist for personalised assistance.

Women’s Health Week runs from September 4 – 8, and serves as a reminder that addressing pelvic health is an integral part of women’s overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Bronwyn also shared that as a mother of six children, she has a lot of personal experience in this field too, which she says has given her a deeper understanding of the risk factors associated with pelvic floor problems.

A typical day for Bronwyn might involve conducting group sessions like postnatal classes on maternity wards or informative continence sessions. She also provides one-on-one care to women who have recently given birth or undergone gynaecological surgery, as well as those experiencing continence issues, prolapse, or pelvic pain.