Understanding Stress Incontinence and the Role of Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy

Stress incontinence is a common medical condition that can have a significant impact on a person’s quality of life. It occurs when there is an involuntary leakage of urine during activities that put pressure on the bladder, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting, or exercising. This condition primarily affects women, especially after childbirth and during menopause, but it can also occur in men. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available, and one such approach is pelvic floor physiotherapy.

Stress Incontinence Explained:
Stress incontinence occurs when the muscles and tissues that support the bladder and urethra weaken, leading to decreased control over the urinary sphincter. The pelvic floor muscles, which play a crucial role in maintaining urinary continence, can become weakened due to factors like pregnancy, childbirth, aging, obesity, chronic coughing, and certain medical conditions.

Understanding Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy:
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a specialised form of physical therapy that focuses on the muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues of the pelvic region. The primary goal of pelvic floor physiotherapy is to improve the strength, coordination, and function of the pelvic floor muscles.

How Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy Helps:

  1. Muscle Strengthening: A skilled pelvic floor physiotherapist guides individuals through exercises that target the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises help to strengthen the muscles, improving their ability to support the bladder and prevent leakage.
  1. Biofeedback: Biofeedback techniques are used to help individuals better understand and gain control over their pelvic floor muscles. By using sensors and visual feedback, patients can learn to contract and relax these muscles effectively.
  1. Behavioural Strategies: Pelvic floor physiotherapists provide guidance on behavioural strategies such as bladder training, which involves gradually increasing the time between bathroom visits to improve bladder capacity and control.
  1. Posture and Alignment: Proper posture and alignment can influence the functioning of the pelvic floor. Physiotherapists assess and correct any postural issues that might contribute to stress incontinence.
  1. Education: Patients are educated about their pelvic anatomy, how the muscles work, and factors that contribute to stress incontinence. This knowledge empowers individuals to take an active role in managing their condition.

Benefits of Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy:

  1. Non-Invasive: Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a non-surgical and non-pharmacological approach to treating stress incontinence.
  1. Customised Approach: Treatment plans are tailored to the individual’s specific needs and condition, ensuring a personalised approach to care.
  1. Improved Quality of Life: Successfully managing stress incontinence through pelvic floor physiotherapy can significantly enhance a person’s confidence and quality of life.


Stress incontinence can be a distressing condition, but it’s important to know that effective treatments are available. Pelvic floor physiotherapy offers a holistic and non-invasive approach to addressing this issue. By strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, improving muscle coordination, and providing valuable education, individuals can regain control over their bladder function and enjoy an improved quality of life. If you or someone you know is struggling with stress incontinence, consulting our qualified pelvic floor physiotherapist could be a crucial step towards managing and overcoming this condition.


Written By Karen Jamieson 


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