Ok, so when I hear the words “pelvic floor” the folks I think of are pregnant women and the elderly. It’s also a term that has come up in yoga classes, usually in the context of maintaining strength en route to joining one of those groups of people. Shows how much I know.
Sophie Villeneuve has an entire physio practice focusing on pelvic floor health, and shares her knowledge of the rather intimate subject with both frankness and passion.
I begin by asking her what exactly it is, this pelvic floor.
“It’s basically a bunch of muscles attached to the pelvis like a hammock, that support the bladder, rectum and uterus (if you have one),” she explains.
In addition to support, they also have a role in sexual function, including orgasm, urination and defecation, and stability of joints in the hips and lower back. All rather important things – and that is precisely why Villeneuve made the choice to specialize in this seemingly obscure branch of physiotherapy seven years after studying more general physiotherapy and extended care.
“A friend in Quebec was working in pelvic floor physio and told me how rewarding it was – she felt like she was really able to improve her patients’ quality of life of.”
That is exactly what Villeneuve has found since opening Physio Borealis in Whitehorse in May 2015.
The problems associated with the pelvic floor are of an intimate nature, having to do with societally uncomfortable subjects of sex and elimination, and Villeneuve is able to create a safe and trusting space for her clients.
“I discharge my patients when they are healed,” she explains, “and that is very rewarding; though a person has to be willing to do the work.”
The nature of the musculature is such that homework is definitely a part of treatment, and Villeneuve affirms that patients have to take responsibility for our own healing.
Most of her patients are women who are either pregnant or who have recently given birth, but there are also men, for instance those recovering from prostate surgery. “There are lots of people who would benefit from the work I do and just aren’t aware of it,” explains Villeneuve. “Painful intercourse, incontinence, pelvic pain, overactive bladder, pelvic organ prolapse… there are lots of different disorders associated with these muscles.”
It’s not only potential patients who could benefit from education – Villeneuve gave a presentation on her work to local doctors this spring in an effort to ensure that the health community knows what she is able to offer.
“About 50 per cent of my patients are referred by another health professional, and the other half seek me out on their own.”
Villeneuve, who is also an avid hiker and musician, is taking part of the winter off from her business to spend time out in the bush, but will be taking new patients through December and will be back in March.
She tells me sincerely, “I am passionate about helping people get back to the things they love.”
You can find out more at www.PhysioBorealis.com.