Purpose of review
To describe the principles of pelvic floor physical therapy (PFPT), review the evidence for PFPT as a treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction, and summarize the current recommendations for PFPT as a first-line conservative treatment option for pelvic floor disorders.
Pelvic floor dysfunction can cause voiding and defecation problems, pelvic organ prolapse (POP), sexual dysfunction, and pelvic pain. PFPT is a program of functional retraining to improve pelvic floor muscle strength, endurance, power, and relaxation in patients with pelvic floor dysfunction. Based on the available evidence, PFPT with or without supplemental modalities can improve or cure symptoms of urinary incontinence, POP, fecal incontinence, peripartum and postpartum pelvic floor dysfunction, and hypertonic pelvic floor disorders, including pelvic floor myofascial pain, dyspareunia, vaginismus, and vulvodynia. Currently, there is conflicting evidence regarding the effectiveness of perioperative PFPT before or after POP and urinary incontinence surgery.
PFPT has robust evidence-based support and clear benefit as a first-line treatment for most pelvic floor disorders. Standards of PFPT treatment protocols, however, vary widely and larger well designed trials are recommended to show long-term effectiveness.