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Pelvic Floor Specific Electrical Stimulation

The use of electrical stimulation (ES) for the treatment of urinary and fecal incontinence and other related problems such as interstitial cystitis spans a 30-year period.  Electrical stimulation is often referred to as pelvic floor muscle electrical stimulation (PFES).  PFES is the application of electrical current to the pelvic floor muscle. Applying a low grade electrical current to pelvic floor muscles stimulates the pelvic muscle to contract. Muscle contraction from PFES is a useful addition to pelvic floor exercises in the rehabilitation of weakened pelvic muscles.  It can be very beneficial for women who are unable to contract these muscles on command as it may teach the correct action. These electrical currents stimulate and contract the same muscles as Kegel exercises.  PFES improves the function of the bladder and levator ani (pelvic floor) muscle groups.

At A Different Approach - PT for Women (ADAPT), our physical therapist apply PFES to the body by using skin electrodes around the anus or by using vaginal or rectal sensors (probes) which may be used in conjunction with biofeedback.  The electrical stimulation heightens perception of the pelvic muscle activity.

It is postulated that PFES:

  • Increases the proportion of fast twitch fibers of the pelvic floor muscle.
  • Increases the number and strength of slow twitch fibers of the pelvic floor muscle thus improving resting urethral closure.
  • Improves recruitment of pelvic muscle fibers when doing voluntary pelvic muscle contractions.
  • Can relax and inhibit bladder activity or bladder contractions that cause urinary urgency, frequency and urge incontinence

Persons with the following medical conditions may benefit from the use of PFES:

  • Stress and urge urinary incontinence
  • Urinary retention
  • Sensory urgency syndrome of the bladder
  • Dysuria
  • Dyspareunia (painful sexual intercourse)
  • Interstitial cystitis
  • Dysmenorrhea

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