Red flags are signs and symptoms that something more serious may be going on are that we need to refer you to A and E, your GP or a gynaecologist. It doesn’t matter if you are pregnant, recently giving birth or are going through the menopause your Women’s Health Physiotherapist will ask numerous questions to rule out any of these red flags. These are the signs and symptoms that we may be slightly more concerned about:
Pain from bowel, bladder or vagina
This includes pain with urinating, defecating or having sex / inserting a tampon. It’s not normal to have pain in these areas and your Women’s Health Physiotherapist will be able to examine the area to see if there are problems with your abdominals or pelvic floor muscles.
Bleeding from the vagina especially after the menopause
It is fairly normal to get irregular periods and spotting but if you have more significant bleeding you really should visit your GP. Cervical cancer is one of the most treatable cancers in women and simply having a smear test could save your life. It is imperative that you continue to have smear tests every three years.
Discharge from your vagina postpartum
It’s fairly normal to have discharge from the vagina postpartum. As the days and weeks pass it should pass from being red, to brown to a yellow colour. However, if this discharge starts to become more red in colour again around six weeks we need to rule out that there is no haemorrhage or infection that needs to be treated. Your women’s health physio therapist will be able to examine this and also advise you on what to do.
This is any lack of sensation around the genitals or back passage that can be caused by pressure of a spinal disc on the S2-S4 nerves in the spine. This may also be accompanied by the inability to pass urine. This is a serious medical condition and if you lose sensation in this area you need to urgently go to A and E.
Leaking from the bowel and bladder
Up to 32% of women suffer from incontinence with 45% of mothers sufferingfrom urinary incontinence within seven years ofgiving birth. It is not normal to have any leakage from your bowel or bladder. Although you can use pads and a pessary, proper rehabilitation of your pelvic floor should prevent any leaking. It’s not just incontinence of urine that women suffer from, 1 in 5 women over 40 also suffer from faecal incontinence. Red Wandsworth Physiotherapy’s 6 Tips to Manage Incontinence article here.
Seeing or feeling anything protruding from the vagina
This could indicate a pelvic organ prolapse. This is more common than many women think with 50% of mothers who had a natural birth suffering from a POP. There are numerous organs that could prolapse into the pelvic floor including the vagina, the womb or the rectum. Your Women’s Health Physiotherapist will be able to assess this for you and give you the right treatment and advice on what to do.