Do My Clothes Come Off for Pelvic Therapy?
HI friends! You may have been learning about your pelvic floor and are considering seeing a pelvic floor therapist. Thoughts may be crossing your mind like: Do I have to take any of my clothes off? Do I have to have an internal pelvic exam? Will there be stirrups?
First and foremost, this discussion is best to have with your therapist. In most cases, an internal exam, in which you would need to remove clothes from the waist down, will give your therapist the best idea of how your pelvic floor muscles feel and work.
For individuals with a vagina, internal pelvic exams can be done either through the vagina or rectum. For individuals with penises, an internal pelvic exam can be done rectally. These allow your therapist to get a better sense of how strong your muscles are, whether they have appropriate levels of tension, and/or how the muscles interact with one another. Often, an internal assessment may not happen at your first appointment, but ultimately it is YOUR choice whether or not to have a pelvic exam.
If you choose not to have a pelvic exam, your therapist can still feel a small part of the muscles over clothing near the buttocks. This can give them an idea of whether you are able to engage and relax the pelvic floor.
If you do choose to have a pelvic exam, your therapist should complete the entire assessment in private. They should step out of the room to give you privacy while you undress and give you a sheet or gown to keep you as comfortable and as covered as possible.
If you feel more comfortable having a second person, like a friend or companion, in the room while the exam is being done, let your therapist know. Your therapist will also respect your decision if you start the exam but decide you do not want to finish it.
After having an exam, here are some good questions to ask your therapist so that you can understand your body and treatment plan better.
Here are some great resources to help you learn more about your pelvic floor:
Watch our YouTube playlist Pelvic Physical Therapy
Find a provider near you at mypfm.com/find-a-pt
Watch Netflix for Your Pelvic Floor at Pelvic Flicks
Learn more about your pelvic floor on our Instagram
Visit our Amazon store for our favorite pelvic health products
Sign up for our email newsletter
For providers, check our online courses to help your athletes with urinary incontinence. Consider joining our Ambassador Program and most of our courses are included with your membership!
Pelvic PT Evaluation of the Pelvic Floor Muscles with Dr. Samantha Richter, PT, DPT, WCS
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT