The Tragic and Painful Struggle of Women With Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

By Isa Herrera, MSPT

confident doctor explains new medication to patient
Do you suffer from pelvic and bladder issues? And do you sometimes feel lonely, ashamed, gaslit, and frustrated? Does this experience make you feel a sense of heightened anxiety or even depression? Do you avoid thinking about your pelvic floor problems because it’s just too difficult?

These very common experiences are something that women secretly deal with every day. And it’s not very different from the definition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Instead of one singular, extremely painful event that causes heightened anxiety and stress…pelvic floor disorder can be a constant, low-level source of stress that sends your body into a PTSD-like response. 

Why does this happen? How has modern medicine failed women so hard and left them feeling so despondent? 

Let’s take a look.

What Is Medical Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is when someone makes you question your own feelings or thoughts…and in the medical world, it’s more specifically a dismissal of your symptoms. 

Did you know that doctors are known to misdiagnose patients one out of every seven times? (1) And these errors are often attributed to “knowledge-based mistakes?” (2) Yes, that means that most of the time, a lack of knowledge on the doctor’s part leads to an inaccurate diagnosis.

Here’s the real kicker: women and people of color are far more likely than men to experience this misdiagnosis situation. (3,4) 

And just a few other statistics outlining the gender bias in medicine:

  • Men are more likely than women to have lab work ordered by their doctors.(5) 
  • Women in pain are often told it’s all in their heads. Or considered hysterical, emotional, or assigned psychological causes for their pain rather than somatic ones. (6) 
  • Women weren’t included in clinical drug trials until 1993! (7)

The Medical Gaslighting Of Women

Every day, I talk to women who have been to their doctor, only to have their concerns dismissed.

“That’s just a part of getting older.”

“It’s probably nothing to worry about.”

“You’re just stressed out.”

“You should probably lose weight.”

“Just have a glass of wine and relax.”

Ever hear any of these gems at the doctor’s office?

You’re not alone. This is the very definition of medical gaslighting.

Women worldwide have been speaking out about this phenomenon —  and we’re fed up with this nonsense. 

How To Say No To Medical Gaslighting

Gaslighting is when someone makes you question your own feelings or thoughts…and in the medical world, it’s more specifically a dismissal of your symptoms.

Here’s the thing. Until things in our medical system change dramatically, the only thing we can change is ourselves and our own behavior. Sure, that’s kind of a sad thought, but it’s really the only power we have at this point. After all, the imbalanced power dynamics between patient and doctor are what got us here in the first place.

So, if you find yourself questioning your own thoughts, feelings, or symptoms because a doctor is dismissing you…you have two choices:

1- Keep asking questions! If your doctor isn’t helping you heal, find another doctor. If you don’t like the diagnosis or dismissal your doctor is giving you — don’t take that as an answer. Keep pestering. Keep going back. Keep asking more and more questions.

2- Take your health into your own hands. When it comes to pelvic floor dysfunction, there are tons of ways you can support your own body, no doctor required. Yes, even if you have prolapse, incontinence, or pelvic pain. In fact, studies show that pelvic floor therapy is quite effective at healing these disorders. (8,9,10,11,12) And I know the 15,000+ women whom I’ve personally helped would say the same. 

When you’ve experienced medical gaslighting and the trauma and post-traumatic stress from the experience, it can be hard to find your voice and your power again. And no, you shouldn’t have to. You shouldn’t be in this position in the first place. But you have no choice — you’ve got to move forward and declare that a doctor who tried to make you feel crazy will not stop you from fully enjoying your future.

Finding Your Strength And Unlocking Your Power

Maybe you’ve found that a lack of a proper diagnosis is stopping you from getting the care you need. Or you’ve tried a few Kegels and decided that pelvic floor exercises “don’t work.”

Well, I’ve got fantastic news for you.  I’m hosting a free workshop (totally no-cost, no strings attached) to show you how to get your power back and heal your pelvic floor yourself. 

In this workshop, I’m literally giving away all of the secret methods I’ve taught to thousands of women that are now happily pain and leak-free.

In this workshop, we’ll talk about the mindset shifts you can easily make to transition from victim to victor.

We’ll also go over examples of holistic pelvic floor exercises that you can do yourself in the privacy of your own home — no doctor visits required..

  • If you’ve ever sneezed and wet yourself just a little bit…
  • If you’ve ever tried to explain your pelvic pain or sexual issues to your doctor and not gotten any help…
  • If you’re experiencing pelvic organ prolapse…

This workshop is for you

Join my Total Fem *V* Secrets Workshop and Feel Confident Knowing You’ll Never Need To Talk To A Doctor About This Stuff Again!  Click here to grab yourself a FREE seat.

ISA HERRERA - V-SECRETS-WORKSHOP

References

  1. “Diagnostic error: incidence, impacts, causes, and preventive strategies.” https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.5694/mja2.50771. 
  2. “Patient Record Review of the Incidence, Consequences, and ….” 28 Jun. 2010, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/416102.
  3. “Missed diagnosis of stroke in the emergency department – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28344918/.
  4. “Delayed diagnosis of adrenal insufficiency is common – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20400889/. 
  5. “Gender bias in physicians’ management of neck pain – PubMed.” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12396897/. 
  6. “A Theory-Guided Literature Review on Gender Bias in Health Care ….” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5845507/. 
  7. “History of Women’s Participation in Clinical Research.” https://orwh.od.nih.gov/toolkit/recruitment/history.
  8. “The efficacy of pelvic floor muscle training for pelvic organ prolapse.” 5 Jul. 2022, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/282250959_The_efficacy_of_pelvic_floor_muscle_training_for_pelvic_organ_prolapse_a_systematic_review_and_meta-analysis.
  9. “Reviews Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Pelvic Floor Hypertonicity.” https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2050052121000123.
  10. “The Investigation and Treatment of Female Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4570968/. 
  11. “Long-term efficacy of pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation for older ….” https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21176328/.
  12. “Effectiveness of pelvic floor muscle training and bladder … – NCBI.” 19 Jan. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6428909/.

About ISA HERRERA, MSPT, CSCS

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