Gender Affirming Care: 8 Ultimate Benefits of Pelvic Floor Therapy

Pelvic Floor Therapy for Gender Affirming Care
June is pride month, a month to celebrate and commemorate the LGBTQIA+ population and a perfect time to share the importance of pelvic floor therapy for gender affirming care.

There is a lack of awareness and education surrounding pelvic health and gender affirming care. And there is a misconception regarding who has a pelvic floor –Transgender individuals are not an exception to pelvic floor dysfunction. Pre- and post-operative pelvic floor therapy can improve gender-affirming outcomes by managing pre-existing pelvic floor dysfunction before surgery as well as address any musculoskeletal and postural impairments after surgery. Pelvic floor therapy can also help with non-operative gender-affirming modalities like binding, packing and tucking.

How Pelvic Floor Therapy Can Help Gender Affirming Care:

Pelvic floor therapy is a crucial intervention for various individuals, particularly those undergoing or considering gender-affirming surgery. This therapy offers significant benefits before and after surgery and for those managing pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) without surgical intervention.

Pre-Operative Care:

  • Address pre-existing pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) like pain, incontinence, or constipation. Pelvic floor therapy can address pre-existing pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) such as pain, incontinence, or constipation. Many individuals experience these issues, which can significantly impact their daily lives and overall well-being. Therapy can alleviate these symptoms, providing much-needed relief and improving quality of life before surgery.
  • Improve surgical outcomes by optimizing pelvic floor muscle strength, coordination and mobility. Improving surgical outcomes is another critical aspect of pre-operative pelvic floor therapy. By optimizing the strength and coordination of pelvic floor muscles, patients can enhance their body’s ability to handle surgery and recover more efficiently. Stronger and well-coordinated pelvic floor muscles can reduce the risk of complications and promote a smoother, more effective healing process.
  • Prepare for post-surgical recovery with education and exercises. Additionally, pelvic floor therapy prepares individuals for post-surgical recovery by providing education and exercises tailored to their needs. Understanding how to manage post-operative symptoms and perform specific exercises can lead to a more comfortable and successful recovery, reducing anxiety and enhancing overall well-being.

Post-Operative Care:

  • Manage pain, swelling, and scar tissue after gender-affirming surgery. Post-operative care is essential for managing pain, swelling, and scar tissue after gender-affirming surgery. Pelvic floor therapy can significantly reduce these symptoms, promoting better healing and improving comfort during recovery. Addressing scar tissue through targeted therapy can enhance mobility and reduce discomfort, facilitating a smoother recovery process.
  • Restore pelvic floor muscle function for improved urinary, bowel, and sexual health. Restoring pelvic floor muscle function is another vital aspect of post-operative care. Surgery can impact urinary, bowel, and sexual health, but pelvic floor therapy focuses on regaining muscle function and improving these essential aspects of health. Through personalized exercises and treatments, individuals can restore their pelvic floor function and enjoy better overall health.
  • Address postural changes that may arise post-surgery. Postural changes often arise after surgery due to alterations in anatomy and muscle balance. Pelvic floor therapy can help correct these changes, ensuring better long-term health and comfort. By addressing postural issues early on, individuals can prevent further complications and promote a more stable and healthy physical state.

Non-Operative Gender Affirming Modalities:

  • Help manage PFD related to binding, tucking or packing techniques. Alignment changes from non-operative gender affirming modalities can cause pain and weakness, leading to dysfunction in one or all of these areas. Dysfunction in the diaphragm, abdominal wall and/or pelvic floor can present as urinary or fecal incontinence, constipation, pelvic/hip/lower back pain, and changes to our sexual health. A pelvic health PT/OT can help manage these uncomfortable side effects and improve quality of life by prescribing various breathing, strengthening, and mobility exercises to restore overall posture and alignment, and to reduce pain in muscles that may be affected by these techniques.
  • Improve overall pelvic health and core function. Moreover, pelvic floor therapy improves overall pelvic health and core function, even for those not undergoing surgery. Strengthening and coordinating the pelvic floor muscles enhance stability and function, leading to better physical health and well-being. This therapy is a valuable tool for anyone looking to improve their pelvic health and overall quality of life.

Creating a Safe Space for Gender Affirming Care:

At Mind Body Pelvis, Dr. Natalia emphasizes a trauma informed approach, so that individuals feel safe seeking care and returning for follow ups. It is important to address each person with preferred terminology and names, and to meet them where they are without judgment to enhance the patient-provider relationships. Sensitive history taking is so important to understand individualized changes, including hormone therapy and surgical or non surgical interventions that an individual may have taken prior to attending pelvic floor PT.

Dr. Natalia emphasizes using gender neutral terminology for body parts, or asking the individual if they have preferred terms to use. For example, using terms such as external genitals, inner and outer folds etc can be helpful.

Conclusion & Resources

Pelvic floor therapists can provide essential support and care for the trans, non-binary, and LGBTQIA+ community and it should be up to us to facilitate research, learning and growth rather than relying on the trans community to educate us. At Mind Body Pelvis, we are passionate about meeting the healthcare needs of the trans community through a safe and inclusive space for optimal healing. To our trans folks in the community reading this: We see you, and we support you.

Additional Helpful Resources About Gender Affirming Care:

Share the Post: