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Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

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Women's and Men's Health Physiotherapy

The Women's and Men's Health Physiotherapy team works with both inpatients and outpatients, men and women.

We provide care at the Oxford University Hospitals sites in Oxford and Banbury, and at the Health and Wellbeing Centre in Abingdon.

We are often also referred to as 'Continence and Pelvic Health Physiotherapists'.

Conditions we treat include:

  • antenatal and post-natal pelvic girdle pain
  • other pregnancy-related musculoskeletal disorders
  • postnatal abdominal separation (recti divarication)
  • continence issues related to both bladder and bowel
  • female sexual pain (dyspareunia)
  • pelvic organ prolapse
  • constipation and obstructive defaecation
  • pre-operative and post-operative education for prostate surgery and gynaecology surgery.

Our team

The service is mostly provided by specialist physiotherapists with postgraduate qualifications in this area. The team is led by members of the Association of Chartered Physiotherapists in Women's Health.

We are also a training centre for junior staff wishing to develop skills and work towards postgraduate training. All these trainees are closely supervised.

We work closely with all disciplines involved in patient care, and take a holistic approach to healthcare. Each physiotherapist considers areas such as lifestyle, work and leisure and helps their patients to self-manage.

Your appointment

What to wear

Wear loose, comfortable clothing to your appointment as we may need to carry out a physical examination. Depending on the condition being treated, you may need to undress.

Arriving for your appointment

Every effort is made to try and give you an appointment time that suits you. Please contact us via phone or email if you have any concerns (details below).

We make every effort to see people at the correct time, although there are sometimes delays. Please arrive in good time to help us achieve this. If possible, please arrive a little early, as you need to complete a questionnaire.

For information about transport to our hospital sites, please visit the individual hospitals' web pages.

If you are delayed, please call the department and let them know.

Contact us

If you arrive late for a one-to-one appointment, you may be offered a shorter appointment or asked to rebook depending on how much time is remaining.

Late arrivals for a group session however will not be allowed to join the group as there is not time to go back over information that has been missed.

Not all of our reception areas are staffed on a full-time basis, but please do ask the staff if you are unsure of anything.

What you can expect

Your first visit will last approximately an hour, on a one-to-one basis or within a group depending on the reason for your referral. Check your appointment paperwork to confirm which type of session you will be attending and make sure you are properly prepared.

You are welcome to bring your baby to any one-to-one appointments. If you are attending one of the classes, please read the information below and any information we have sent you, to find out if older children may attend.

Examination and treatment

A physical examination is often required. We will explain this to you during your appointment. If you have any concerns about the proposed examination, please let your physiotherapist know. You may request a chaperone, but if one is not available at the time of your appointment, we may need to reschedule the examination for another day.

Before treatment starts, we will discuss your problem with you and set realistic goals. Treatment is tailored to your individual needs and we will discuss it with you in advance.

Treatment often includes one or more of the following:

  • education in the self-management of the problem
  • a variety of manual therapies (hands-on treatments by the physiotherapist)
  • exercise prescription
  • inclusion in an exercise class.

At present we do not use ultrasounds or electrical biofeedback units

Please talk to your physiotherapist if you do not understand anything about your treatment or experience any problems.

What we expect

Please make sure you attend your appointments.

Appointments for both one-to-one and group sessions are always in high demand. If you are unable to attend your appointment, please provide as much notice as possible so we can offer your appointment to another patient.

Contact us

If you do not attend your appointment and do not tell us in advance, we will discharge you from treatment. If you want to continue treatment your GP will need to refer you again.

Exercising at home

Physiotherapy is not a passive treatment and we will ask you to do exercises at home. It is very important to do these exercises so that your physiotherapy is effective.

Group information sessions

Because of the number of patients referred to our service, we often hold group information sessions.

The sessions give patients an opportunity to find out some basic information about their condition, as well as learn how to start self-managing until a one-to-one appointment is available.

At a group information session we encourage patients to participate in the conversation and ask any questions to better understand their condition. If we invite you to attend a group session but would prefer a one-to-one appointment, please contact us and we will arrange an appointment. Bear in mind this may mean a delay in starting your treatment.

Contact us

All sessions are intentionally limited to small groups of between six and ten, and we often have waiting lists. If you are unable to attend your allocated session, please let us know so that we can invite someone else to attend.

Pelvic Floor Group

This group is for women experiencing symptoms of incontinence and prolapse. It provides a lot of useful information on how to change your habits at home to reduce symptoms, and how to get started on strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.

Although there is no obligation to share individual experiences, the class is a comfortable and safe environment for women to discuss and share the problems they have been experiencing; therefore, it is unsuitable for male partners or family members to sit in on the class.

Antenatal Pelvic Pain Advice Group

This class is for patients with antenatal pelvic girdle pain. Your midwife or GP can refer you to this class. If you have been experiencing pain for more than a few days, ask to be referred. The sooner you learn to manage pelvic girdle pain, the less likely it is to get worse.

The format involves a combination of lecture and practical session in which you will be given advice on how to best manage your symptoms. Please come dressed in loose comfortable clothing suitable for taking part in gentle exercise and stretching.

Due to the structure of the class, please do not bring children; however, partners are welcome to attend.

If, after attending the class and following the advice, your symptoms do not improve, please contact us for a one-to-one appointment with a physiotherapist.

Postnatal Tummy Check Class

This class is for postnatal mums who may have a recti divarication (RD) or significant stretching of their abdominal muscles. It is an opportunity for the physiotherapist to assess your tummy and teach exercises to help improve the RD or loose abdominal muscles.

Your midwife or GP can refer you to this class, or you may be invited after seeing the Women’s Health Physiotherapist on the Maternity Ward.

Please come dressed in loose comfortable clothing which allows for easy examination of the abdomen and performing some gentle exercises.

You are welcome to bring your baby to the class. However, please do not bring toddlers or older children.

Recovering from gynaecological surgery

Undergoing gynaecological surgery can be a challenging experience. It often takes a minimum of six weeks for you to feel back to normal again. All women who have gynaecology surgery at our hospitals are invited to attend this information session which provides an opportunity to learn more about the recovery process.

Information covered includes:

  • tips on protecting the wound when moving around
  • exercises to help prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • bladder and bowel care
  • pelvic floor muscle exercises to aid in recovery
  • other exercises and stretches to help you move more comfortably
  • advice on activities to avoid during your recovery.

If you are interested in attending please contact our department and book the next available class.

Prostate School

Our prostate surgeons recommend that patients scheduled for radical prostatectomy surgery attend the Prostate School.

The sessions are intended to help prepare for surgery, ease postoperative recovery and give patients a chance to ask questions.

The group session is led by a combination of one of our specialist Men's Health Physiotherapists, a Uro-oncology specialist nurse and a Surgical Care Practitioner (a specialist nurse who assists with robotic surgery). It will last about two hours.

You are welcome to bring a partner or friend, but please do not bring children under 12 years old.

After the group, we invite patients to book an appointment with the Women's and Men's Health Physiotherapy team for around six weeks after their operation date to address any symptoms they may be experiencing.

Stability Class

Patients attending this have a variety of symptom and their Women's Health Physiotherapist has recommended that they improve their core stability, strength and body awareness. This is a four week programme, with exercises drawn largely from Pilates.

Each week the exercises are progressed, aiding in the return to other forms of physical activity. Your physiotherapist can refer you to this class after carrying out an initial assessment and making sure that it is safe/suitable for you to participate.

Patient leaflets

Please find below leaflets that you may find useful from the Women's and Men's Health Physiotherapy team.

Contact us

Women's and Men's Health Physiotherapy Department
Therapy and Dietetics
Level 2, Churchill Hospital
Old Road, Headington
Oxford OX3 7LE

Appointment queries: 01865 235383

Email: physio.womensandmenshealth@nhs.net

Referrals

Please see our Referrals section.

Links

DEPARTMENTS AND SERVICES