Debunking Four Myths About Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy

So you think you might have pelvic floor dysfunction, and you’ve read that physical therapy can help. You’re nervous/excited to get started, and have already researched some doctors and therapists, but you find yourself putting off actually contacting anyone. Then, after a few weeks of debating, you abandon the idea completely. Maybe your pelvic floor will just magically fix itself? (Unfortunately, that is highly unlikely.) 

Or maybe, just maybe, you need to see what’s keeping you from getting the care you need. It’s possible that you’re hindered by a false belief, or several. I want you to feel better, so let’s separate fact from fiction. Prepare to be surprised and relieved! Pelvic floor physical therapy can be affordable, effective, comfortable, and 100% right for you!

Myth #1: It will be too expensive. If you live in the US, you know: Healthcare can be very costly. Unfortunately, many pelvic floor physical therapists are out of network providers. This means that they are not in network, or contracted with your insurance company. This is because pelvic floor PT is a speciality within orthopedics, and we work with our patients one on one. (Can you imagine how awkward it would be if pelvic floor PTs were juggling 2-3 patients at a time, which they often do at typical outpatient orthopedic PT? Yeah, that model would be terrible.) And…insurance companies set their reimbursement rates assuming that physical therapists are seeing several patients simultaneously…and we obviously are not. BUT, just because we’re typically out of network providers does not mean you’ll be going into debt over treatment. If/when you can prove to your insurance company that there are no in network providers, they may grant you an “in network exception” or “gap exception.” Basically, they would then treat the out of network provider AS IF they are in network and reimburse you based on the mutually agreed upon amount. So be sure to ask your insurance company about your eligibility for these secrets that they hide all too well.

You also may be able to limit costs by working out a plan that lets you see your therapist less often. Your physical therapist could also have a payment plan that works for you or offer sliding scale options, similar to what we offer at Revitalize Physical Therapy. Never be ashamed to be honest about your financial situation with your physical therapist. They understand! Finally, it is important to bear in mind that unlike outpatient orthopedic PT for, say, your shoulder or knee, which is often 2-3x/week, pelvic floor PT is often 1x week (with some homework in between sessions). This means that even if your therapist is out of network, you would only be paying for one session each week.  

Myth #2: It will be weird. If you’ve never had pelvic floor physical therapy before, it can sound strange. But remember: Your physical therapist is a medical professional, the same as any doctor, and you need this to treat a medical condition, and enjoy a better quality of life. Your therapist does this work day in and day out to help people eliminate pain and improve their quality of life, and there is nothing weird about it for him or her! It’s their job, their calling and their passion. They have changed people’s lives with this therapy, and they want to do the same for you. Your physical therapist can work with you to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. Iatrophobia, a fear of medical care, can be treated with cognitive behavior therapy as well.

Myth #3: It won’t work. Physical therapy is a legitimate and effective treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction. Don’t assume it doesn’t work just because you are not cured after one or a few sessions. It will take time. I repeat: IT WILL TAKE TIME. It is a process, not a pill. However, the majority of people do see improvement if they stick with it. On average, most of my patients start to notice significant improvements within 6-8 visits, if not sooner. My average PT appointments are about 60 minutes, and your “homework” doesn’t need to take a lot of time either, and can be accomplished while listening to relaxing music or a podcast. It can be easily incorporated into part of a routine you do while winding down at the end of the day

Myth #4: I don’t need pelvic floor physical therapy, and I can manage fine without it. Pelvic floor dysfunction is a sneaky beast, and it can be hard for the average person to identify it just based on symptoms that don’t seem all that serious. It is possible to think running to the bathroom more often, constipation, or back pain are just a part of getting older. The best guidance? If you have any symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, see a trusted healthcare provider to see if therapy may be right for you. You may not consider getting a physical for your pelvic floor in the same way you would for your heart or blood pressure, but paying attention to that part of your body can be very beneficial for your quality of life.

Are you feeling better about making that call or sending that email now? I hope so. Look, it’s ok to feel scared! You are embarking on something you’ve never done before. But you should focus on conquering your anxiety, because on the other side of it, great healing awaits! You may be faced with numerous challenges in your recovery journey but don’t let your greatest barrier to receiving the care that you deserve be you!