Okay. Let’s get real here. I’m getting tired of hearing, “back in the day that just wasn’t something we spoke about.” Or, “You do not speak about those things openly, it’s private.” Or, “It’s normal. It’s just stuff we have to deal with by being a woman.”
STOP. NO. No to all of that. We do not have to be silent about having any mental, emotional, or physical issue. Yes, I am talking about it ALL here ladies. We should talk about it. We deserve to have the ability to reach out and get care for whatever it is that we are dealing with. The most important thing to remember is you are not alone. There are so many of us keeping the silence due to fear of what others may think, the fact that our mom said not to speak about it, or because we are embarrassed.
Oh, let me back track. The things I’m speaking of are things like leaking on yourself, losing control of stool, having pain with sex, prolapse symptoms or things coming out of the vagina, looking at your vagina, saying the word vagina…
First and foremost, I can promise you that you are not the only one dealing with what you are dealing with. Every woman has had some kind of issue, if they say they have not they are lying! From acne, to wrinkles, to other skin problems, to fat being somewhere it shouldn’t be, to terrible menstrual cramps, to problems with hormones, to pain during sex….we all have something. Being a woman is just hard. I know. Trust me, I am one. It is not only hard sometimes physically, but emotionally and mentally as well. We are wired differently from men. Yes, we do have more emotions and we do handle things differently. We want to look nice, we care what others think, we want to feel good in our own skin.
Let’s chat about why you might be afraid. I had mentioned in my most previous post that it is not something you are making up. I do want you to know that, I feel it is important. However, we have to respect and appreciate the fact that sometimes there is a psychological aspect, I would challenge there is always one. I know for me, I was not raised where I spoke to my mother about my vagina, my pelvic floor, or my “girl” issues. I would speak with my sister some, but got very limited advice as far as, “it’s normal,” “it gets worse.” You know, the usual. I was a ballet dancer for most of my life and realized quickly that most every dancer around me had some kind of thing going on, but we did not talk about it unless it was to assure someone that it was normal.
This made me not only afraid, but really cautious about what I spoke about. I did not tell anyone what I was going through. I did not say I was feeling self conscious about my pimples. I did not say I was called fat at school and am now going to try and starve myself so I can lose weight fast. I was thinking it, doing it, but never saying it. Why? I was afraid I’d be judged. Yes, ladies, I admit to it. I did not want to be viewed differently because I was laying out of school “sick” even though it’s because I was vomiting and had extremely painful cramps, or that I got the “stomach bug” even though I really started my period for the first time and it got EVERYWHERE. I was traumatized. I felt like I was the only one who had to go through this.
Going back to the question at the beginning of this blog. Why are we afraid? Because that is what history has allowed to be. We have felt afraid to discuss these things due to fear of what someone might think. Fear due to what someone else may feel because we say it out loud. Ladies, that era is over. It’s time to truly hear we as women roar! Do not be afraid! Let’s talk about our vaginas, they are a part of us!
I have a story. You have a story. We all have stories as women. That’s the Main reason I started this blog. I want to connect with you and your story. I want to hear how you handle things, what you think, how you feel. I want to know what is going on with you. I want to be here for you. I will continue to expose bits of my story as I become more comfortable in my own skin. Give me time, it does take time.
Pain. With. Sex. Yep, I said it out loud. Three words that no one wants to hear being put together. Why in the world would I want to talk about something so…shameful. Why would I even touch on that subject. Well, for one because it needs to be discussed. For two, I’ve experienced it. Yep, that’s right. I’ve had pain with sex. FOR YEARS. I’m just now getting up the nerve be more open about it. Thank you Women’s Health Specialty for helping me realize there is no need to be silent.
Approximately 75% of women have had some form of pain with sex….that is a LARGE number. This number does not insist that 75% of women has pain with sex ALL THE TIME. But, at some point, 75% of women have pain with sex. So, yes I plan to discuss it.
Honestly, answer these questions:
Do you have pain with initial penetration of the penis during intercourse? Or insertion of the fingers into your vagina?
Do you have pain with deep penetration?
What about with the thrusting?
Are there certain positions you notice more pain in?
Are you finding yourself anxious or nervous prior to having sex?
Do you feel uncomfortable talking to your partner about sex being…painful or not enjoyable?
How long have you been dealing with this?
Have you ever enjoyed sex or had sex without pain? What were the circumstances?
Okay, phew, that is out of the way. You do not have to share your answers. I urge you to send me a message though as I feel very strongly about being open on this topic and would love to chat with you about it. Once you have your answers, written, or engrained in your head, I want to tell you this:
You Are NOT Alone and There is Help For You. You Can Get Help.
I am a pelvic floor physical therapist looking for ways to build my brand, form relationships, and get information out there about what I do and why I can help as well as obtain conversations with women like myself who have no other “safe place” to discuss these issues with. So, if there are 75% of women suffering from pain with sex, you are damn right I’ll be discussing it.
Another statistic: 3 out of every 4 women have pain with sex. I do not know if you understand the relevance of that number. 3 OUT OFF 4. That’s almost ALL. This CAN be a long term problem. The clinical term for painful sex is dyspareunia. I will just call it painful sex for simplicity.
I have a frustration with this whole process though. When you look up pain with sex and try to find information, what pops up? PSYCHOLOGISTS. STUDIES IN THE PSYCHOLOGY REALM.
Let me just say something:
Pain with sex is not something you are making up. You are also not going crazy. Nor should you just assume it is normal and allow it to continue.
One of my biggest pet peeves is when the healthcare system is sending women with painful sex to a psychologist stating it is in their head. No. Of course, there can be psychological aspects that go along with it, especially if you have experienceed any form of domestic or rape abuse. However, I would challenge that the majority of women having pain with sex it is more so due to the musculoskeletal system. Who the heck do you see for that?! A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist!
Let’s talk a little bit about some reasons you might be having pain with sex:
Structural: Such as the opening of your vagina is actually small, or you have a small space.
You have sensation impairments. This can be caused by trauma, by childbirth, or nerve entrapment/impingements.
You have trigger points: These are “tautness” in the muscle belly which can become very sensitive and sore to touch (i.e. when a penis or finger hits the sore trigger point)
You lack flexibility. Your hips and your pelvic region do not have appropriate flexibility of the pelvic floor muscles to allow full range off motion necessary to allow intercourse to occur.
You are unable to down train or relax your pelvic floor or hip muscles to allow for insertion of penis or finger into the vagina. If you tense up a lot or have difficulty with pap smears or even inserting a tampon this may be you!
Now, I do not make these up. These are reasons that I have either heard a patient say, experienced myself, or have noted throughout endless hours of research. As usual, if you are having pain or discomfort during intercourse it is best to see a pelvic floor PT to obtain an absolute diagnosis and be able to progress you through an appropriate treatment. Nothing I say in this blog is to taken as medical advice.
If you are having pain with sex though you may want to try a few things:
Proper diaphragmatic breathing and training. I have in my previous posts posted a video from my Youtube channel specifically about this. Now remember though this is going to be used for relaxation to Allow sex to occur. You do not need to focus on this breathing pattern during sex.
Flexibility training. Go back to my previous posts and find the one “Pelvic Pain” and there are several stretches on there that I have pictures and description on how to perform for the stretches I find most likely to help.
Perform these stretches prior to and after having sex. 30 second holds at least.
If you have ttrigger points, you will need internal manual release. Occasionally you can get relief on your own with this:
I do NOT recommend utilizing this until a pelvic floor PT has assessed you, taught you how to use it, and recommends it to you as well.
Education on positioning during sex.
There are certain positions that can decrease your chances of having pain during sex.
The most important thing I remind my patients is:
If you are on top, you have control.
Try being on top, the try putting pillows under your hips while lying on your back, then you can try laying on your side with pillows between your knees.
This will be discussed further in another blog!
Hope I’ve answered your questions about haivng pain with sex. The most important thing to remember is you are not alone. Find help!
Connect with me so I can help you!
So important to remember to warm up and cool down!
Don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep yourself updated!!
So. Ladies. Let’s get really honest here. Everyone, hopefully, has heard of the term “prolapse” but who truly knows what it is? Do you? Are you able to explain exactly what is happening, what is causing it, or what it is? If not, have you heard of anyone suffering from prolapse? Yes, suffering. Prolapse can be very dysfunctional to a persons life due to mental, emotional, or physical impairments caused by it. I feel this is something that needs to be addressed not only to our ladies whom are pregnant, but elderly, and even our young teens.
The most interesting thing is:
You do not have to be pregnant, or older to have a prolapse. It can happen at any age, male or female.
Yes. I said it. It can happen in a child. A 15 year old. An 18 year old. A 25 year old. A new mother. A mother of 5. Men. It is unfortunately not rare. Let’s discuss a few things about what it is, types of it, what may cause it, and possible things to do for improvement.
A prolapse is defined as, “a slipping forward or down of one of the parts or organs of the body,” by the dictionary. The way I describe it to patients is as so,
“When something internally moves, causing tissue to push to the outside of your body.”
Sounds intense, I know. But unfortunately it happens and it can happen. It can happen with a movement of your bladder (cystocele), your rectum (rectocele), or even your cervix (apical). The symptoms are as follows:
pressure in the lower abdomen
actual protrusion (ball like structure) on the outside
you can actually feel as if you are sitting on a ball)
bleeding or reddened/irritated tissue
problems with sex
feeling as if something is in the way
heavy pulling in the pelvis
If you have 2 or more of the above, get in to see a pelvic PT! You do not have to suffer. There is help!
Let’s talk about some causes of prolapse.
Pelvic floor muscle weakness and inability to support the organs.
long and hard labor
long period of time with pushing
position during delivery
increased pressure in the pelvic floor (coughing, sneezing) when there is not support or strength
bearing down during trying to have a BM
increased surgical procedures performed in the lower abdomen or pelvic region
You can hopefully at this point see the importance of being educated on your pelvic floor. Everyone is different. So as mentioned before, you do not have to go straight into kegels because that may not be the best option for you.
I know you all have the same questions, “How can I treat it?” “can I make it go back in?” “can I fix it?” “what do I do with it?” Well, first and foremost:
This post is not intended for medical instruction or use. You need to see a pelvic PT for proper diagnosis and treatment of YOUR prolapse.
But. The treatment varies. We discuss behavioral modifications, eating habits, water habits, positioning while on the toilet, positioning during intercourse, how to “put it back in” when necessary, and so many other things. It also depends on what “grade” of prolapse you are given. This ranges from 1-4: 1 is nothing, 2 is where the tissue comes to the whole of the vagina but not out, 3 is where it comes halfway out, 4 is completely out. The later grades sometimes will require a surgical repair, and PT can only assist along the way. However, the lower grades have been shown to really help! I always say if you can function, don’t have the surgery!!
As far as everything else, we treat the constipation first. If you have a weak pelvic floor, we will certainly address that. But we must also look at how you breathe, how strong your core and low back is, your hip strength and mobility, etc. There is not one treatment approach that works, you must work on everything as a whole for a full treatment approach.
First and foremost. ACCEPT it. This has happened. You are not prolapse though, you just have it. Keep your mindset in the proper place and try your best to limit negativity and fear/anxiety of the unknown.
Get into a Pelvic PT for assessment and treatment and GET IT ADDRESSED!
When something is going on, “down there” and you go to your gynecologist, what do they say? Especially if you have had kids? They tell you to do your kegels, right? Keep doing them and it will get better soon. You aren’t doing enough. You aren’t holding them long enough. You don’t know how to do them. Then you look up online what to do and you get hundreds of different kegel programs. However, the unfortunate part is, most (yes the MAJORITY) of women (even men) do not know how to do the kegel exercise properly. How do you react when I say,
KEGELS ARE NOT FOR EVERYONE
Whatttt?!? Did I just say that? Yes, I did. I 100% stand behind it too.
First of all, what exactly is a Kegel? Don’t worry if you don’t know, join the club. It was once thought to be a common word but unfortunately not so much. A kegel is an exercise where you “squeeze” the muscles around your vagina and your rectum to “close the holes.” We use these contractions to improve strength, endurance, coordination, or control of urgency/frequency, etc. But remember, not everyone needs to be doing them!
I’m going to give you a few reasons why the kegel exercise would NOT BE A GOOD THING TO DO:
You feel tightness in your stomach (lower region) or irritability, meaning those muscles are tense.
Don’t do a kegel because:
If you do, you are actually increasing the pressure of your lower abdomen/core region which will not help loosen things up OR make them function better. You would then just
The muscles on your inner thighs (adductors) into the groin are really tight.
Don’t do a kegel because:
You are already tense around the pelvic region and increasing tension by contracting the pelvic floor will not make a positive change. The best option to do FIRST is to stretch out the inner thighs and relieve the tension.
If you have pain in your vagina or pelvic region constantly or daily
Don’t do a kegel because:
This can indicate something else going on internally with the musculature. If you have tension or a problem going on internally already, then doing a kegel will only make things worse.
If you have pain inserting a tampon, having intercourse, or getting a papsmear done
Don’t do a kegel because:
You potentially have tightness in the musculature internally (pelvic floor region) which is contributing to the pain. Or you may be having sensitization impairments or problems (cannot feel what you should be feeling).
If you have difficulty performing a deep breathe with proper diaphragm movement
I posted about this before, but have put another video here for you. (Subscribe to my youtube channel for more!)
If you are unable to breathe properly you have no ability to control your internal pressure. You will have too much pressure in your abdomen already and with a kegel this will only increase.
Hopefully this clarifies some of your questions about whether or not Kegels are right for you. This, of course, is not to be utilized as medical information and if you are having pelvic floor dysfunction. Please let me know if you have any questions!
Sometimes we go, go, go and never rest. We do not take the time to relax or spend time with ourselves. We push ourselves to the limit and assume being busy is what success is. We assume we always have to exercise and build strength and endurance and ignore the relaxation portion. The only way to be fit and healthy is to work out all the time and eat really good foods, right? It has absolutely nothing to do with finding yourself and working on your mindset, or learning to allow relaxation in your body. I challenge that.
Relaxation is just as important to your mindset, your happiness, your life, and your recovery as performing an exercise program. If you do not learn to SLOW DOWN and LISTEN to what your body is telling you, you are going to go too far and then it will be too later. Let me put this into perspective for you.
Scenario: You have recently had your very first baby!! It has been about 8 weeks after having the baby and you and your significant other have a night alone. You try to be intimate and realize it is painful. You follow through assuming it is normal because your group of friends all talk about how sex is never the same and it is painful after giving birth. You then start to feel pressure in your lower abdomen with standing and moving around and when you go to the bathroom you feel something that should not be there. You are afraid to look, but it goes back when you are finished going, so that’s normal, right? What now? The reasoning I hear from patients:
I did not know it was not normal.
I did not know anyone would be able to help me.
I thought I just needed to workout more.
The problem I have with the above is they NEVER LOOK and see what is going on! I’ve not had one patient come in and tell me they looked and saw this, or looked and saw that. I get them coming in after having a doctor tell them they have prolapse and it’s normal to have pain but try PT just in case.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT PICTURE?!?!
PAIN WITH SEX IS NOT NORMAL. I DON’T CARE HOW MANY KIDS YOU’VE HAD.
There are several things we can go into here, but my post this week will be on trigger points throughout the vagina so make sure you tune back in and I will have another coming about prolapse. But today’s post is really about this:
IF YOU DO NOT TAKE THE TIME TO LEARN ABOUT YOUR BODY BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER PREGNANCY HOW WILL YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR NORMAL IS AND HOW WILL YOU KNOW WHEN SOMETHING IS WRONG?
And, please do not hear what I’m not saying. You do not have to be pregnant or have been pregnant to have the above issues. Actually, what I’m talking about today is directed to ALL WOMEN.
My point for today is that we need to learn to sit back, chill, and listen. Stress can be held in the muscles in your vagina which can contribute to pain during intercourse and other impairments. You also want to take into account that exercising (aka Kegels) your pelvic floor muscles is NOT FOR EVERYONE (again, another post coming soon). How many of you work out all the time but do not pay attention to your relaxation or flexibility throughout the pelvic floor? I know I didn’t, until I had pain with sex. Now, I do.
It is just as important. So, first and foremost we have to learn how to breathe properly. I have posted a video below of myself, on my YouTube channel (be sure to subscribe!) for you to see how I recommend you begin this. Use it as an exercise with ANY impairment. With anything you may be dealing with: stress, anxiety, pain, insomnia, etc. Breathing with your diaphragm has been shown to have a tremendous amount of positive effect.
Secondly what I want you to focus on is meditation. I want you to consider doing meditation and FOCUSING on what is going on. In our scenario above it would be:
what exactly am I feeling
how does this make me feel
how is my body reacting
how is this affecting my relationships and ability to function
how do i get help
Meditation is POWERFUL and will give you a free mind to improve everything you are going through. You just have to start. You have to do it!
Calm App for Meditation- FREE
I also want you to focus on STOPPING and TAKING A BREATHE. When things are busy, overwhelming, stressful, etc. Just start by breathing. Do your best not to let anything get you down. Spend time with yourself and breathe it out. If you do, your body naturally slows down what is happening and you will feel more energized and more able to handle the situation.
Lastly, I have attached another video from my YouTube channel on stretches I recommend specific for pelvic floor impairment. Remember: these are not for everyone and you should get a consult prior to trying if you are concerned. I have found these are my favorite and most effective for my patients.
Ignore the mess in my house, and the weird noise because I’m in an empty room, we are still in the process of unpacking!!!
In case you missed it, the moral of this blog is to: Slow down, pay attention to your body, and listen to it. If you need rest, then rest. If you need fruit, then eat fruit. If you need sleep, then sleep. Let’s stop lying to ourselves and pretending we can do everything effectively. It’s not possible and we all know it.
Take time to relax, breathe, meditate, and stretch. It’s CRUCIAL!
First off, notice the picture I’ve posted here. Why in the world would I put a picture with both male and female when only females deal with leakage? Because men deal with it too. It’s simply not true to believe it is only pregnant women or women in general who deal with this. Another piece of education to consider is that it doesn’t only affect pregnant women. Yep, I said it. It can affect men, women, boys, girls. Of ALL ages.
Leakage in this context is the loss of urine that is out of your control. It is medically referred to as incontinence. There are 3 different “types” of leakage (incontinence) I want to describe here.
Urge incontinence: This is where you get this uncontrollable URGE to go the restroom which does not go away no matter how hard you try. Also, you will leak on yourself if you do not get to the restroom immediately. Typically treatment is tailored to making adjustments to behavioral activities such as taking note of water intake,learning your triggers and managing the urge, the proper posture during urination, bladder scheduling, etc.
Stress incontinence: This is where you cough, sneeze, laugh, jump, or do anything requiring exertion that causes urine leakage. This can be a little bit or a whole lot. I have seen stress incontinence in elderly, younger women who lift heavy, men following prostate surgery. Shoot, I had stress incontinence. That’s one of the reasons I am so passionate about what I’m educating you on now! Depending on how severe, the treatment typically involves pelvic floor muscle control and coordination training as well as behavioral modifications like noted above.
Mixed: Where you experience both of the above. The treatment varies here depending on the patient.
One takeaway I really want you to understand today is that:
NO MATTER WHAT AGE, NO MATTER HOW MANY KIDS, NO MATTER HOW ACTIVE, NO MATTER WHAT SEX… INCONTINENCE IS NOT NORMAL.
So, let’s stop talking about it and joking around like it is. It certainly is not and should be addressed in order to improve your quality of life.
Some things to consider if you feel you have incontinence of one of one the above categories:
Are you drinking enough water?
How are you sitting on the toilet?
What else do you drink consistently throughout the day?
How often do you urinate?
Do you drink fluids 2 hours before going to bed?
Once you’ve answered the above, you can really dig into what is causing your incontinence and what you can do to fix it. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer to live a life without worrying about peeing myself…
Feel free to reach out with any questions!
What do you notice at the end of a long day of work? Or after going to the gym and working out hard? Do you feel sweaty “down there”? Do you notice dark spots in your clothing from sweating “down there”? Do you notice the soap smell you had earlier in the day? Or do you notice nothing at all? Maybe a not so pleasant smell, like sweat or body odor?
Let’s face it and let’s have a serious talk. Firstly, I have a sweaty crotch writing this because it is definitely out of my comfort zone. However, I’ve been asked WAY too many times about odor and what it all means or when to be concerned. So, we are going to have the talk ya’ll. It’s going to be the real deal.
Well. I’m here to tell you, that doesn’t mean you are unhealthy or something is wrong if you sweat or have odor. Our vaginas sweat. And sometimes they sweat like a pig which is mostly out of our control! Trust me, I know, I live in Florida and my vagina is always sweating. It’s terrible.
I believe it is expected in society that our vagina is supposed to smell like flowers all the time. I mean, we already take care of it like we do our legs, we scrub (stop that), we shave it (be careful with that), we soap it up (doesn’t need it), but we don’t exercise it. There is a leg day, why not a pelvic floor day? I mean, just a thought for another day of discussion. My point is, everyone is different. We all have different smells that come from our vagina. There are also different reasons for everyone on why there might be different smells.
So, here’s the deal. Odor is not a negative thing. Odor is your vagina’s way of speaking to you. Listen to it. Pay attention to the odors you are producing because they can actually tell you what is going on internally. You have natural bacteria and yeast in your vagina (which you should be incredibly thankful for) that could be causing some of the smell. It is a great thing to be able to secrete bacteria or yeast from our vagina or we would constantly be battling UTI’s or yeast infections.
You have sweat glands in your vagina. Yes, I said it. That is a lot of the reason you get those weird dark spots in the crotch of your shorts during summer. There are 2 types of sweat glands:
eccrine: release sweat right onto the skin
apocrine: release sweat in hairy places (armpits or vagina) into the hair follicles
Your vagina is mostly composed of the apocrine glands, which explains why you “smell.” Your bacteria, yeasts, and sweat are all coming out into the hair follicle. Then to top it all off, we usually have tight leggings on so our vagina cannot catch a breathe of fresh air. If you do not have hair “down there” the sweat still comes out of the hair follicle, so yes this applies to you too. The cool thing is that the sweat glands in your vagina release sweat when you are hot (eccrine) or when the temperature rises, but the apocrine glands can secrete sweat with just emotional stress. So you remember that stress you had this morning, before lunch, during lunch, and picking the kids up from school? Yes, it makes your vag sweat.
So, you stress, your vagina sweats……. WHAT?!?!
I’ve started to tell my husband during an argument or disagreement to stop making my vagina sweat. Ha, that goes in my favor every time!
Sweat mixes with the normal bacteria and is actually supposed to be odorless. The odor comes from the fact that it is released into the hair follicle ALONG with the bacteria and yeasts. Some ways we make things worse: wearing tight clothing in hot temperatures, clothes that are not cotton, thongs or tight fitting lingerie, not letting your vagina breathe. This means those expensive leggings and that sexy lingerie is potentially causing your vagina to stink….
Also, don’t wear underwear to bed. Let it air out, give it some room to breathe! It needs to allow all of the bacteria from the day to go away!! Wear loose pajama bottoms or a nightgown without having underwear on. During the day, go for cotton underwear and try to avoid thongs/g-strings as these are NOT GOOD for your lady parts!
Pay attention to your smells. Figure out what your normal smell is, what it smells like during ovulation, during your menstruel cycle. Because if you don’t there is a high chance you will mistaken the smell to be an infection or that something is wrong. Unfortunately infections tend to be over-diagnosed due to the patient fearing the “new smell” when it has actually just been the fact they do not know their normal smell.
As reported in my last blog, it does not help to put scents or use soap. That can actually mess with the pH, bacteria, or yeast and CAUSE a worse smell down there. So, your best option is to take my advice from the before blog for cleaning, wear cotton, let it breathe, don’t waste money on things that will make it worse, and listen to your vagina!
First and foremost, raise your hand if no one has ever taught you or spoken to you about proper hygiene of your body? How much soap to use, where not to use soap, what to scrub, what to be careful with? Be honest. Honestly think about it. I remember just watching and learning from my siblings and my mom and when I would take my shower by myself, I’d lather up EVERYWHERE and use nearly an entire bottle for the one shower. I thought that meant clean. I thought that was what I was supposed to do.
Here’s the myth: Your vagina requires soap to be clean.
That’s a myth?! YES! Your vagina has “self cleaning” powers and does not require you to use a whole lot of smelly good soaps. There is a certain type of bacteria that is inside your vagina which helps to keep bad stuff out and helps eliminate odors. So, please do yourself a favor and do not put soap inside your vagina in attempts to clean it.
Your vulva does not need to be scrubbed. You will cause irritation if you scrub and increase sensitivity (which you will feel as pain) so don’t scrub it! Compare it to your eyes. You don’t scrub those do you?! So, why would you scrub something with similar sensitivity?! All you need to do is lather up your body with soap and water, spread the labia (vagina lips) apart and allow the soap and water to wash down in between where your fingers are holding. That is the best way to clean your vagina!
Leggings are amazing to make your butt look good and to make you feel like you are working out, even if you are just sitting on the couch. BUT they are so bad for your vagina. Your vagina needs to breathe, and if you consistently wear tight clothing (this includes pads, panty liners, underwear, conforming clothes) then you are not allowing it the breathe of fresh air it desires. The same goes for tight fitting undergarments, thongs, or other restrictive clothing. We take our bras off when we walk in the door, let’s start taking our undies off too! I do recommend my patients put on loose fitting shorts or a nightgown once home and don’t put the restrictive underwear on.
Are you cringing? Or are you freaking out? Well, that’s good. Sometimes we have to do things that are uncomfortable to make a positive change. Consider the above and come with any questions!!!
<3 <3 <3 <3
Half the time, I notice my patients come in and sit down without having any idea why they are here. Most of the time, they ask, “How in the world could a physical therapist help me?” Typically they are anxious, afraid, fearful of the unknowing. I can just see it in their eyes that they have never in a million years heard of going to a physical therapist for a pelvic floor issue. They understand to go a gynecologist, or their primary care, but they do not know why they might come to me.
Well, neither did I. No, I’m just being honest. I did not know that the profession I paid so much to be a part of, the schooling I went through that was exhausting and caused so much anxiety, had any part in …. well our parts. There was one class I sat through, a total of 4 hours, that explained the anatomy of the pelvic floor and described it was an option. I remember sitting there thinking:
I WILL NEVER, EVER, EVER GO THERE IN MY CAREER. THAT’S NOT WHAT WE DO.
The professor was speaking of “internal” examinations, touching “deep muscles,” bowel and bladder habits….yuck! I couldn’t help but instantly feel uncomfortable. We DON’T talk about that! I left the class and completely ignored everything she had said. I ignored how rewarding she said her job was, how much she has learned since going into it, how she is now loving every second. Nope, just sounded gross so I ignored it all.
Until I got out of school. I took my first job and started on my career path. I was treating all of the exciting stuff that you never got to SEE in school. The complex cases, the impairments that have been there for years…all of it. I LOVED it. One day the clinic director asked me, “Are you by any chance interested in pelvic health? We are trying to fill a spot here.” I instantly got fearful from remembering my past 4 hour course and said, “I don’t think so.” However, I couldn’t help but continue to think about it. I started to look up blogs, articles, webpages, about people who have had pelvic health treatments or those who have treated them. From patients’ I was getting things like:
THIS HAS GIVEN ME MY ENTIRE LIFE BACK
COMPLETELY LIFE CHANGING
I CAN GO TO THE BATHROOM NOW AND HAVE NO PROBLEMS
I’M NOT EMBARRASSED TO GO OUT TO EAT WITH MY FAMILY
I GOT BACK INTO A BATHING SUIT
I’M ABLE TO HAVE SEX WITH MY SPOUSE AGAIN
I got to thinking. This is something. There has to be more to it. So, I went back to my director and said, “I’m willing to give it a shot. Hope I like it.” We sent me all the way to Seattle to take the first Pelvic Health Level of training. I walked into class, had not looked at any of the materials because I was still ignoring everything. Sat down and there it was. A very large, hairy vagina on the projector screen.
WHAT DID I GET MYSELF INTO.
I looked into what patients had said about treatments. I NEVER looked into what the training entailed. So we started with anatomy (I will blog about this), then got into dysfunctions, treatments, etc. Then we partnered up and she said we are preparing for the internal examination….
I did not come here for THAT! I did not even shower twice or “prepare” or look to see if it’s okay down there. I did not even mentally get ready but you want me to take my pants and underwear off and jump on a table and let someone I just met examine me?!
The answer was yes.
This turns out to be the EXACT mindset of most patients when they come in to see me. They become fearful. They have no idea what to expect.
So, my examiner started to ask me some questions. Some deep questions. This was before we did the internal examination. She was asking if I leaked urine or feces, if I had constipation or bowel problems, pain with sex.
Instant embarrassment. Do I have to ADMIT to my problems that are private? They are normal, right? I fought with myself for a minute. Then with tears forming and with pain in my chest I spoke up. I said,
“I leak urine if I cough, jump, or run. Which I do a lot of the above. I had a … traumatic event at one point in my life… so internal examinations make me really anxious and emotional. I am unable to have sex with my partner because it hurts. If we do, I just suffer and cry later. But I have friends who deal with these things too so it’s nothing abnormal.”
I’m a freaking physical therapist and that was my response. You have got to be kidding me, right? I look back at all of this now and I truly wish I knew then what I know now. Long story short, they did the internal, I cried, I had no coordination or ability to contract/relax my pelvic floor appropriately and I had “trigger points” in my vagina.
Next day was treatment. It was dreadful. It hurt, I cried more. I treated someone else and cannot say I particularly enjoyed it. Class was over and my husband and I went out to explore Seattle. I ran and….no leakage because I had been doing what the examiner told me to do. Wait…no leakage? None whatsoever? Wow. Okay, well now I’m curious. Let’s see if….sex still hurts? We tried and…….
I ENJOYED IT. NO PAIN.
Literally 2 treatments. I was sold. I went back to the course and stood up in front of them all and said, “I’m cured. You all cured me. I’m sold. Let me learn.”
They all smiled like this happens all the time….later I find out it does.
My back story? I’d been leaking with jumping, running, or exercise for about 8 years. I was a ballet dancer all of my life and was one of the “excessively flexible” ones. I had never been told to control my pelvic floor, or even what it was. So, I never paid attention. I also had bouts of IBS loose stool or constipation. I had terrible habits. Once I learned about it all and changed what I needed to,
MY BOWEL AND BLADDER HABITS ARE AWESOME AND I’M ISSUE FREE!
After that one course I’ve been HUNGRY for more information. I started seeing patients, learning about conditions, and BOOM. I’m GOOD at this. I’m good at connecting with and forming relationships. I’m good at helping women feel comfortable. I’m good at education. I still sometimes do not know what to do for a particular case but I love finding out. The reward I had with my simple treatment that helped get rid of 8 years of problems is all I needed to start me on this journey.
My pelvis is a part of me. It is something I need to care for and pay attention to. So should you.
Continue following, bring your friends, to get more information on what pelvic health is, dysfunctions, education, etc. I’m so excited for this!
Reading that title made you cringe didn’t it? I mean, who in their right mind would say VAGINA out in the open? Well, I would. I just did. Oops? Why not?! We say back, neck, knee, foot, mouth….why not vagina? It’s a part of the human anatomy. The word itself has gotten a bad reputation and I believe that is something that needs to change! Let me first be honest: I HATED the word at first, never looked at it, and had a really hard time understanding how people can openly talk about sex. I was a ballet dancer, so the human anatomy never bothered me, but the discussions made me uncomfortable. Why? I’m not sure.
BECAUSE IT WAS NOT THE NORM TO DISCUSS IT.
I am SO excited to report my change in direction here. By no means am I discounting anything I’ve blogged about before, I will continue to add in my expertise about mind,body, and spirit as well as recipes/exercise but I’m adding a direction change. I have a certain population I’ve become extremely good at connecting with and treating in my profession. That is Pelvic Health.
I’m going to start discussing my journey with pelvic health, what it is, different conditions, what I experienced, and how I got into treating it, etc. to improve public awareness. This will include: anatomy, physiology, products I recommend, different recommendations, nutrition, etc. There is a lack of knowledge and fear of “exposing” these impairments that needs to be addressed! I want this to be a place where you can reach out to me via e-mail or my contact info and get your questions answered!
If you say vagina around your grandmother she most likely will tell you not to say that word. It honestly was considered a “dirty word” for the most part. In their generation, you did not speak of the vagina. You did not speak of peeing on yourself after having a baby. You did not mention that you have tissue coming to the outside of your vagina. You suffered through sex with your husband/significant other because you did not speak about having pain during sex. You did not speak of the ripping apart of your abdominal muscles. Or the deep ache you got in your pubic bone when you were trying to walk.
You didn’t look at your vagina. You didn’t talk about it. No one knew what you were going through. Even when I was dancing, it was not something we spoke about. We’d make jokes about peeing on yourself because it was “normal.” Every time we jumped/leaped/turned we’d have leakage. Everyone had it. I never knew I’d need to be treated for it or that I would one day help other women who suffered the same types of problems I had. But here I am, killin’ it.
So, again, I am extremely excited to open up my new access for women all over the world who suffer from pelvic health issues. Stay tuned for more of my stories and more information. If you or someone you know has a problem in the vagina region (pelvic region) then bring them to this site and have them follow. I will for sure be able to give some insight or direction for assistance!
See you soon!
I was craving chocolate today. I’m not sure why all of a sudden on the 20th day, however, here it is. And remember, I was not cutting out or eliminating sugars however I’ve been trying to limit my intake of sugars. I know I feel much better without the intake of sugar. I have a weird obsession for granola. I LOVE granola bars. So, what did I do? I made my own!
Coconut oil (about 1 tsp)
2 egg whites (make sure these are at room temperature, it affects the consistency)
1/4 cup of plain non fat greek yogurt (I used chobani)
some honey (I did not measure, but probably 2 tbsp or so)
small amount of salt
1.5 cups of rice cereal (gluten free)
1 cup of gluten free oats
carob chips (you can use chocolate chips, but carob is delicious)- to your taste
300* F on your oven
line an 8 inch pan with cooking spray (I use parchment paper)
mix eggs and coconut oil
add yogurt, honey, salt
stir in cereal and oats
add carob chips
press mixture onto pan
press extra chips on top
bake for about 18 minutes until golden brown
let them cool completely, and then cut into small squares
Since I had sugar, I had to follow up with ab exercises right?! Here is the ab workout I did!
I did 21 reps, then 15 reps, then 9 reps of each of the following:
arms up, half sit up
flutter kicks while laying on my back
for this one, make sure you keep your spine on the floor (do not arch)-reps count for each side
plank taps (be sure not to let your back arch) – reps count on each side
Bird Dogs- reps count on each side
Boat Holds (don’t let your back curve)- with a 5 second hold, then straighten to a V up for 5 seconds, then back to boat
*****IF YOU HAVE A MEDICAL CONDITION OR PAIN PLEASE CONSULT A PHYSICAL THERAPIST PRIOR TO ATTEMPTING THESE EXERCISES*****
By the end of that, I was exhausted! I felt like I had accomplished what I needed to after this day though.
I am now to the end of my 20 days “Post a recipe and an exercise” everyday. I’m excited to say I will probably continue documenting what I do. My blogs will continue to be consistent 2x/week now until I share all of my new and exciting plans!!!