May is Pelvic Pain Awareness Month! Pelvic pain is a topic not often discussed in women’s circles which leads many women to suffer in silence believing they are alone or that help is not available. As FertilityCare Practitioners, we often ask screening questions to see if our clients are struggling with these issues, but it is important for all women to know the signs. Today Dr. Bridget Bates, DPT shares her knowledge to shine a little more light on this often overlooked topic.
Pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction is a major issue that effects many individuals every day, though most don’t know this is a problem that can be helped! As many as 1 in 3 women suffer from pelvic pain and pelvic floor dysfunction. These issues can be difficult to talk about, but CAN be helped without surgical interventions, invasive procedures, or even medicine.
Pelvic pain can manifest as sharp or burning pain in the area between the legs, a chronic cramping in the lower abdomen or vagina, groin pain, low back or sacroiliac joint pain, hip pain, and even pain that travels down the legs. If you are experiencing any of these pain symptoms, pain with urination or bowel movements, pain with intercourse, or pain with sitting; it’s time to look for help!
Things that can cause pelvic floor dysfunction include:
trauma (such as childbirth, sexual trauma or abuse, and other injuries such as falls);
infections such as UTIs, yeast infections, and kidney infections;
previous surgeries including hysterectomies, hernia repairs, caesarean sections, low back surgeries, hip surgeries, or abdominal surgeries;
weakness in the core or pelvic muscles;
heavy or repetitive lifting;
straining during urination or bowel movements; and GI issues such as IBS, Crohn’s, and Ulcerative Colitis.
Aside from pain, other symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction warranting evaluation by a pelvic health provider would be urinary or fecal incontinence (leaking with sneezing is NOT normal!), pain with intercourse or female examinations, IBS, diarrhea, or constipation issues, prolapse or pressure in the pelvic region, painful periods, endometriosis, and post-natal care.
Postpartum care is EXTREMELY important. I believe it is important that every woman seek at least one session of Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy treatment following birth whether it is a vaginal birth or Caesarean section, traumatic or smooth. Birth is a trauma to the pelvic floor and untreated tightness, tearing, or weakness can cause a lifetime of issues. These issues can present immediately following birth or years later. Common conditions requiring treatment following birth are: pain, incontinence, episiotomy care, caesarean section scar care, and diastasis recti treatment.
Pain with sex is NOT normal. Leaking with coughing, laughing, sneezing, or lifting is NOT normal. Kegels are not the solution for all pelvic floor problems and at times kegels may be making the problem WORSE! It’s important to know that there IS help out there and you are NOT alone in these struggles. Reach out to a Pelvic Floor Rehab professional in your area if you have questions!
Be good to your body – you deserve it!!
Need to find a physical therapist certified to address your pelvic health concerns? Search for one near you at www.pelvicrehab.com.
Dr. Bridget Bates, DPT is a women’s health physical therapist certified through the Herman Wallace Institute. She utilizes manual therapy techniques as well as individualized exercise programs to help restore her patient’s health and wellness. Dr. Bridget is passionate about promoting awareness of women’s pelvic issues and removing the stigmas that prevent women from getting appropriate treatment. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or find her at The Refresh Pilates & Wellness Studio in Homer Glen, IL until she relocates to St. Paul, MN in June 2019.