What does the assessment involve?

The assessment starts with an interview to find out more information about your general health and more specifically, about your bladder, bowel and pelvic function.

Following this, a physical examination is carried out; this is commonly a vaginal examination.

Why does a physiotherapist need to perform a vaginal/rectal examination?

An internal examination is performed by a specially trained Physiotherapist to assess the strength of the pelvic floor muscle. Treatment often includes exercises for this muscle to improve your symptoms.

Following an internal examination, the physiotherapist is able to design an individual exercise programme suitable for you.

They can also perform any internal muscle release or massage if there is a need for it.

What is involved?

It’s slightly different to your gynae exam, in that we don’t use speculums -just the clinician’s finger, to measure your pelvic floor strength.

We need to know this, so that we can assess damage and future treatment.

You will be asked to remove your lower underwear, lie on a bed, on your back, with your knees bent. You will be given a towel to put over your lap. As part of the examination, the physiotherapist will insert a gloved finger into your vagina or back passage to assess the strength of your muscles. You will be asked to perform a series of pelvic floor exercises to assess your muscle function further.

Throughout the examination the physiotherapist will discuss what she is doing and what she wants you to do.

What are the risks of an internal examination?

Although this procedure carries very little risk when performed with correct infection control procedures, there are certain conditions/situations which are listed as precautions under national guidelines. You must therefore inform your physiotherapist if any of the following apply:

  • You may be pregnant
  • You have had a baby recently or have had recent pelvic surgery
  • You currently have any vaginal infection
  • You have recently received radiotherapy
  • You have an allergy to latex
  • Your cultural/religious beliefs do not allow this type of examination
  • If you have ever seen your doctor with a complaint of pelvic pain or other problems around the pelvic area
  • You are menstruating
  • Psychosexual problems