And other introductory questions. Continued from here.
Also note for brief mention of sexual assault.
And before I even get started, I want to post an Official Big Ol’ Disclaimer: I am not an expert in pelvic floor or any other kind of physical therapy. I am one lay person, with no medical training beyond first aid courses and a lapsed CPR certification, who has had fewer than a half dozen visits of pelvic floor PT. Additionally, while the reasons I sought therapy and my reactions to it may not be solely limited to me, I do not intend to portray them as universal experiences, either. Basically, I would advise you to read this as precisely what it is: the personal remembrances of a short-term pelvic PT patient.
I’m going to try to hit on some questions that I hope are fairly pertinent — I know they’re ones I had — and answer to the best of my memory and ability. I have a feeling that even from this point forward, this will be a multiple post series, though I have no concrete idea of exactly how many posts it will end up being.
The in-my-head questioning.
Q: I’m not incontinent, I haven’t had a recent baby or hysterectomy, and I don’t have a prolapse or anything. Should I even look into pelvic floor physical therapy? Could it help me?
It depends, of course. But I do know that before I started seriously researching PT — in an, is this worth all of the copays, drives across town, potential dismissals and failures to help, and hours of my life I won’t be able to get back? kind of way — I had certain misconceptions about pelvic floor dysfunction (a sort of catch-all term for when the pelvic floor isn’t functioning happily). Those misconceptions basically amounted to thinking that all pelvic floor dysfunction was hypotonic pelvic floor dysfunction (characterized by muscles with loose tone and insufficient strength). Partly, I’m sure, this is because a lot of pelvic floor talk is in reference to incontinence and vaginas becoming “looser” due to events like pregnancy, childbirth, and aging. In those discussions, the remedy for such problems is always touted as, “Kegels! Kegels! Kegels!”
Newsflash: Kegels are not the magic answer to life, the universe, and everything pelvic.
While I knew my problems weren’t on the hypotonic end of the spectrum, I also wrongly assumed that all hypertonic pelvic floor issues (characterized by tight muscles and inability to relax those muscles) were akin to vaginismus, whose symptoms also didn’t fully fit my experience.
Then I learned that pelvic floor issues are sometimes linked with endometriosis. And sexual assault. And PTSD. So I was like, “Maybe I will check this out.” It was unlikely to worsen my issues, and by this point, I was plenty used to people not being able to help.
Bottom line? There’s a whole heap of symptoms that are associated with pelvic floor issues: incontinence (urinary and anal), prolapse, pain with urination, pain with penetration (sexual or otherwise), constipation — as well as persistent low back, hip, genital, and pelvic pain. I wouldn’t suggest that pelvic floor PT is necessary for dealing with every incidence of them, but for someone who’s had problems finding a workable, lasting solution to such symptoms? I’d think looking into physical therapy couldn’t hurt and might help.