Hedwig Neels, initiator and driving force behind The Pelvic Floor, is a physiotherapist herself by training and very passionate about her profession. We recently had an interesting chat with this fascinating woman about The Pelvic Floor, a digital platform about pelvic floor (problems) that shares information in a very accessible way to women of all ages. There is often (too) little knowledge about this subject, both among the general population and among professionals. The Pelvic Floor wants to make it more open to discussion and wants to provide scientific information in a simple way to break the taboo and stimulate a preventive approach.

Online informative platform

“The Pelvic Floor is a unique project that does not profile itself specifically from a medical aspect, but also looks at it from a much broader perspective. It is currently an informative site with a platform where you as a woman can find accessible information about various topics. We also use testimonials to create recognition and to break the taboo surrounding the subject. There is also a FAQ page where you can find more information.”

Strong together

“As a physiotherapist and postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences of the University of Antwerp, I myself had too little experience or knowledge of online communication or marketing. That is why I found it very important to seek experienced help for this. Our goal is to bring The Pelvic Floor to the attention of the wider public. We want to be more than a medical pelvic floor dictionary website. The project does not only focus on women who experience problems, but also wants to preventively and proactively attract and stimulate women to read about this subject and to gather knowledge. A mix of professionals with a scientific academic background and marketing and communication specialists is therefore ideal for this.”

A preventive approach

“We published a book in collaboration with publisher Lannoo: 'The Pelvic Floor Book'. In it we explain the project The Pelvic Floor in detail and refer to our online platform. We also call on how you can financially support us through the Antwerp University Fund to make our dreams come true. Recent figures show that at least one in two of all women will experience these troublesome symptoms and pelvic floor problems at some point in their lives. And as many as 10% of women have to undergo surgery for incontinence or organ prolapse as a result. And yet, it is and remains a struggle to get financing for preventive projects. A pity, because many women discover problems too late and do not dare to seek help. Those high numbers could perhaps be avoided by taking preventive action.”

“Even when we ask women what a pelvic floor is and whether they have ever obtained information about it, the majority indicated that they know too little about it and their own knowledge would score less than five out of ten. Women emphasize that they want to be informed but find it difficult to take the step to look up information themselves. With The Pelvic Floor we certainly do not want to dramatize pelvic floor problems. We do want to provide preventive information and offer reassurance. Empowering the positive need for information is central. At the moment there is often silence or problems are rather minimized.”

Visual messages

“In addition to our website, our social media channels are also extremely important, especially to stimulate the proactive aspect of The Pelvic Floor. On social media we can deliver short, powerful messages in a visual way. This is more accessible than, for example, a blog post. You can easily share such visual messages on social media channels and with that we reach more women.”

“We also focus on infographics where a lot of information can be easily found in a digital way. They are available to everyone, for women and professionals. We notice that this really works and that there is clearly a lack of such tools that are easy to use and download.”

Growth requires financial support

“Our aim is to provide as many women as possible with preventive information in a low-threshold manner. That is why we have the idea of ​​launching a digital self-check. As a woman, you will receive an invitation here to answer all kinds of questions about your pelvic floor in complete privacy. This way you will find out whether or not you should take the next step to see a professional. Such a tool would help to make problems more open to discussion.”

“Because in addition to women, we also want to provide professionals with more information about the pelvic floor. Our studies show that they often find this topic difficult to address or even know very little about The Pelvic Floor. The further development of infographics, tools, knowledge clips and webinars is therefore high on our to do list. But this requires more financial support.”

“We still have so many ambitions and ideas that can help so many women and professionals, but because we are a social project that provides services on a 'new' subject, it is often difficult to find funding. It is also important to us that the information remains free so that it is and remains accessible to everyone. We are currently trying to enthuse financiers for our project by also expressing our future vision and ambitions on our website. In this way we hope to reach interested parties.”