Ladies, it’s time to take back control and arm ourselves with knowledge
Victoria was a rising star in her industry. With every passing year, she dared to do more complex work and felt more fulfilled professionally than ever before. But as she gained more respect from her colleagues, another voice started to take over, the one that told her she’d be found out.
It wasn’t just the usual imposter syndrome. She had been leaking uncontrollably and lived in terror she’d leak while giving an important presentation. Back home, she felt too embarrassed to be intimate with her husband, and even when he convinced her he accepts and loves her as is, and she kept giving it a try, being intimate was physically painful and left her feeling like half a woman.
Victoria went to doctor after the doctor (on what I now call the Doctor Road Show) and neither of them knew to tell her what’s wrong. They didn’t know to tell her how common it is, or that the source of it all was her pelvic floor.
If You Have “Lady Parts” Problems It May Be Common But It’s Not Normal
Victoria is not alone. In fact, 30 million women in the United States suffer from pelvic floor issues that embarrass them, debilitate them and hurt their quality of life. Many women are too embarrassed to tell anyone, even a doctor, what they’re going through, but 15% of all women go to their doctors because of chronic pelvic and bladder issues (1).
That’s every 6th or 7th woman.
Unfortunately, doctors are rarely educated in medical school about the pelvic floor, and when these women, like Victoria, find the courage to ask for help, doctors often dismiss them, or worse – tell them it’s all in their heads. That they should drink some wine and relax, and everything will work out easily this way. I’ve heard it over and over from the 14,704 women who’ve come to my healing center with pelvic floor issues, women I’ve had the privilege to heal.
With such a lack of education on behalf of medical professionals – and worse, lack of empathy – it’s no wonder that secondary symptoms – including anxiety, depression, low libido and difficulties in sexual relationships (2-4) are so common.
I’m not here telling you this just as a physical therapist, based on my patients’ experience, or based on the countless research I’ve been doing for years in an attempt to overcome a broken system. I’m telling you this because I’ve been there.
After I gave birth to my daughter, I suffered from chronic pelvic pain and leaking for a long time. The medical community failed me too. I searched the Earth, read hundreds of resources, and tried so many solutions on myself until I finally managed to heal my own pelvic floor.
Ever since then, I tell my patients consistently:
It is not OK for doctors – or anyone – to tell you that you’re hysterical or too uptight for going through these challenges. These are real, physical challenges, and women all over the world share your journey and your search for healing.
You are not alone.
And it can get better.
What Exactly is the Pelvic Floor
Pelvic floor problems affect a woman’s quality of life and most are not life-threatening – so they get less public attention and less funding for research. But these barriers may be secondary to the one fact that for centuries the focus has been on men’s anatomy and much of the research done has been on men as well. So women are left high and dry with little answers. So we must go and learn it for ourselves so that we can direct our healthcare and be in control of our “Queendom.” So let’s go a little deeper into what exactly is the pelvic floor. First of all, there are several proven risk factors for pelvic problems and they include aging, childbirth, and obesity. It’s important to note that pelvic floor issues affect the young as well. A recent review found that more than a third of collegiate athletes experienced urine leakage (5).
The pelvic floor is hidden under the pelvic bones and located from the pubic bone in the front to the tailbone in the back, is comprised of muscles – also known as vaginal muscles – and are involved in 5 very important life functions:
1) Support our organs, including the uterus, bladder, and colon.
2) Close off our urinary sphincters.
3) Enhance sexual function.
4) Stabilize our hips and spine.
5) Act as a sump pump for the pelvis.
The pelvic floor muscles are very complex and very susceptible to injuries. They can bounce back and become stronger with the right kind of exercises, massages, and self-care.
What Happens When There’s an Issue with Your “Lady Parts”
Experiencing issues with your pelvic floor is very common. Some of the common symptoms I’ve seen in my health center include urine leaking and fecal incontinence, pelvic discomfort, pain with sex and low to non-existent orgasms, frequent bathroom trips, menstrual cramps, and constipation.
This happens because the pelvic floor muscles function as deep connectors to the upper and lower extremities. When they get scarred during childbirth or experience episiotomies, spasms, trigger points, or are just too tight or too weak (6), women start experiencing pain, leaking and pelvic organ prolapse and dysfunction, just to name a few of the issues (7-9).
Women who experience these issues go to doctors for help, yet doctors are often not educated in medical school about the pelvic floor, which leads to women being told they’re making it up and are just too hysterical.
Victoria was told over and over again by doctors that everything looks good, so it must be good. She just needs to relax, and that will solve everything. But neither of her doctors ever examined her pelvic floor.
Understandably, Victoria ended up developing anxiety over anything from sex to going to work.
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The Medical Solutions that Actually Heal Pelvic Issues (vs. the Common Ones that Make Things Worse)
Doctors are often confused when women come to them with pelvic floor issues, because their lady parts, like Victoria’s, look physically OK. Therefore, doctors often offer surgeries – but here’s the thing:
40% of all gynecologic laparoscopies surgeries only take place to determine why women are experiencing chronic pelvic pain (10). That’s what was offered to Victoria, too, before she came to my health center as a last attempt to avoid an invasive procedure.
And I’m so grateful she did, because not only do these surgeries – alongside other doctor recommendations, such as opioids and vaginal Botox injections – carry high risk (11) of making things worse, but they are often unnecessary. If doctors just performed a digital exam of the pelvic floor muscles – the ones responsible for all this pain and dysfunction – there would often be no need for invasive procedures.
It’s not just me saying it. The Center for Disease Control and National Institutes of Health have recommended that the first line of defense for pain and leaking be natural therapies, like pelvic floor muscle training (12-13).
For Victoria, we did a combination of integrative and holistic practices, including exercises, massages, mindfulness training, and yoga. These days, she goes to work without fearing she’d leak, and is finally reconnecting with her husband because being intimate no longer causes her pain.
These approaches can help you, too.
5 Steps to Happier Lady Parts: Stop Leaking, Heal Prolapse and Relieve Intimacy Pain Without Setting Foot in a Doctor’s Office
I know it’s possible for you to feel whole again, and to feel in control of your bladder, sexual and pelvic health. I know it because I’ve seen it happen in both my life and in the life of over 14,000 women, like Victoria, that I’ve healed in my health center right here in Manhattan.
Your female anatomy is divine, and when you claim your birthright to gain a deep understanding of it, amazing things happen. I’ve seen women change jobs, walk away from relationships that no longer worked for them, speak up to people who’ve put them down, and go after their wildest dreams, because they have done what has felt impossible – they’ve healed their bodies, and they now enjoy their bodies more than ever before.
1. Pacik PT, Understanding and Treating Vaginismus: A Multiimodal Approach. Int Urogynecol J. 2014 Dec;25(12):1613-20. doi: 10.1007/s00192-014-2421-y. Epub 2014 Jun 4.
2. Arnold LD, Bachmann GA, Rosen R, et al. Vulvodynia: characteristics and associations with comorbidities and quality of life. Obstet Gynecol. 2006;107:617–624.
3. Nickel JC, Tripp D, Teal V, et al. Sexual function is a determinant of poor quality of life for women with treatment refractory interstitial cystitis. J Urol. 2007;177(5):1832–1836.
4. Gerrits MM, van Oppen P, van Marijk HW,et al. Pain and the onset of depressive and anxiety disorders. Pain. 2014;155:53–59
5. Teixeira, Colla, Sbruzzi, Prevalence of Urinary Incontinence in Female Athletes: International Urogynecology Journal. December 2018, Volume 29, Issue 12, pp 1717–1725
6. Gray’s Anatomy: The Anatomical Basis of Clinical Practice, 41e by Susan Standring PhD
7. Harlow BL, Kunitz CG, Nguyen RHN, et al. Prevalence of symptoms consistent with a diagnosis of vulvodynia: population-based estimates from 2 geographic regions. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2014;210:40.
8. Mathias SD1, Kuppermann M, Liberman RF, et al. Chronic pelvic pain: prevalence, health-related quality of life, and economic correlates. Obstet Gynecol. 1996;87(3):321–327.
9. Reed BD, Harlow SD, Sen A, et al. Prevalence and demographic characteristics of vulvodynia in a population-based sample. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012;206:170.1–9.
10. Pacik PT, Understanding and Treating Vaginismus: A Multiimodal Approach. Int Urogynecol J. 2014 Dec;25(12):1613-20. doi: 10.1007/s00192-014-2421-y. Epub 2014 Jun 4.
11. Gerrits MM, van Oppen P, van Marijk HW,et al. Pain and the onset of depressive and anxiety disorders. Pain. 2014;155:53–59
12. CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016 Recommendations and Reports / March 18, 2016 / 65(1);1–49
13. NIH State-of-the-Science Conference: Prevention of Fecal and Urinary
Incontinence in Adults December 10-12, 2007 Bethesda, Maryland