Alice Taylor, head pelvic health physiotherapist at Body In Motion Physiotherapy, is passionate about solving gynaecological problems, getting women back to their normal, active lives.
PHOTOS MAREE WILKINSON
How did you get into women’s health physiotherapy?
When I graduated from university in 2001, I had aspirations of a long career in sports physiotherapy (specifically, massaging David Beckham’s hamstrings!). I worked for a big teaching hospital in Leeds during the week and travelled as the physio for a National Division 1 rugby union team on the weekends. Women’s health couldn’t have been further from my mind. In fact, I’m not sure I even knew what a women’s health physiotherapist did!
By 2006 I was living and working in Mackay, Australia, working with sports and work injuries. At the time there was no one else working in women’s health so I reluctantly went on a post-grad course to see what it was all about. Within the first hour of the course I was hooked and ten years later I haven’t looked back. Since then I have completed numerous advanced post-graduate courses in prolapse, incontinence, sexual pain, bowel dysfunction, mastitis, pregnancy and post-natal physiotherapy.
What do you enjoy the most about it?
I love the way that simple advice, exercises and treatment can make such a huge difference to women’s lives. It’s so rewarding to hear that your patient has been able to return to their favourite exercise class without leaking or is now able to enjoy sex with their partner again after years of pain. I think I’m pretty lucky to love my job!
Do you have a specific area of interest within women’s health?
Yes, pelvic health. I actually treat pelvic issues for women, men and children. In 2010 the World Health Organisation published guidelines on how much exercise we should be doing per week for our health (it’s an interesting read – google it!). I’m really passionate about making sure that incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse or pelvic pain are not preventing people from meeting exercise guidelines, especially when it’s exercise they really enjoy doing. My biggest passion, though, is pelvic and sexual pain. I love addressing the symptoms of complex conditions such as endometriosis, adenomyosis, interstitial cystitis and vulvodynia.
How do women go about asking for help?
It’s normal to feel a bit nervous about seeking help for these kinds of problems but you won’t regret taking the first step. Most of my patients are surprised about how much women’s health physiotherapists know and all my patients tell me that they wish they had done it sooner! From my experience, physiotherapists who choose to go into women’s health are naturally very caring people and will do their best to make you feel as comfortable as possible.
At Body In Motion we offer free five-minute phone consultations for you to find out more about how we can help.
ALICE’S TOP TIPS FOR HEALTHY BLADDER AND BOWEL
- Sit on the toilet properly. Put your feet onto a stool and lean forwards from your hips, keeping your back straight. Relax and bulge your tummy muscles out slightly. This is the optimum position for your muscles to relax and do their job properly.Take your time. If you rush, and do not empty your bladder fully, you could get a bladder infection over time.Don’t ever hover over the toilet seat.
- Drink the right amount of fluids. You can drink too much or too little water: too much and your bladder will be under pressure to deal with excess fluid. Too little and you may suffer from an irritated bladder and/or constipation. As a guide, you should be going to the toilet about six to eight times per day.Cut down on caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks. About two thirds of your fluid intake should be water.
- Look after your pelvic floor muscles. Women are becoming more aware of the importance of strengthening pelvic floor muscles which is great, but if the muscles are already too tight, exercises can make symptoms worse. Have your pelvic floor muscles assessed properly before starting a strengthening programme.
- Exercise regularly. Being overweight puts you at a higher risk for incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Regular exercise along with a good diet can reduce the amount of pressure on the bladder and bowel. Regular exercise, whether it’s walking the dogs on the beach, running, yoga, playing squash or rugby can all help with your general strength and posture and will have a positive impact on your pelvic floor.
- See your GP or women’s health and continence physiotherapist if you experience any of the following: Leakage of urine (at any time!); Rushing to the toilet to get there on time; Going to the toilet more than you think you should; Getting out of bed more than once or twice at night to go to the toilet; Straining to empty your bladder or bowel; Feeling you don’t empty your bladder or bowel properly; Pain during intercourse or when using a tampon; Excessive period pain; Constipation.