Hypopressives are getting more attention in the UK now, due to the increased awareness of the wide-ranging benefits of the technique, and improvements seen by women in their pelvic floor function / prolapse symptoms. The first line treatment used by health care professionals in the UK working with women experiencing pelvic floor symptoms are Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises (PFMEs). Other treatments are used alongside these, including surgical management options.
PFMEs / Kegels were invented in the 1940s, by Arnold Kegel, a Gynaecologist, and they are used extensively within women's health, backed by clinical research. Hypopressives were developed more recently in the 1980s, following research by Dr Marcel Caufriez, a women's health physiotherapist. Dr Caufriez found a link between problems commonly experienced by women postnatally and the increase in pressure in the abdominal / pelvic cavity created by traditional fitness exercises. Since then, there has been further research. Hypopressives are popular in the world of sports performance and fitness, and they are also used for the recovery of the pelvic floor and the abdominal muscles after pregnancy.
I've been using a Prolapse Symptom Questionnaire to collect data (Hagen, S., Glazener C., et al. (2009). "Psyhometric properties of the pelvic organ symptoms score." BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 116 (1): 25-31) since I started working with women, who, due to the less well known nature of the technique compared to PFMEs, have predominantly contacted me following extensive work with women's health physios. Below is the data I collected over a 6 month period from January - June 2019. The improvements experienced by women through Hypopressives have been impressive, significantly impacting their quality of life. The questionnaire includes 11 specific symptom questions and then quality of life scores. The questionnaire asks women to grade their symptoms in terms of how frequently they were experiencing them (never, occasionally, some of the time, most of the time & all of the time. The questionnaire lay out meant I was unable to actually measure improvements in percentages, despite the stats looking impressive on bar graphs as seen below.
Three months ago, I decided to ask women to plot how severe their symptoms were on a scale of 0 - 10 (measurable along a 10cm line), using the same questions. It has meant that for the first time I have been able to calculate symptom improvements as percentages. Please check back for a future blog post with more results.