Why a nun riding a bicycle? Because I like her and she is doing it, moving forward, on a path with a clear direction. Sometimes people in pain need help finding their direction on the path.
Why do women not address their pelvic pain and issues? For a couple reasons, I think, including not wanting to say the words like vagina and vulva in addition to that prehistoric tendency toward martyrdom. There are all kinds of women right now experiencing: pain with sex, terrible cramps, incontinence, pain and heaviness related to urination, pelvic pain after exercising or sex, abnormal post-partum pain and the dreaded un-specific pelvic pain and they are untreated or under-treated.
Terrible cramps? Not normal and not something you have to live with. I think often young women start having cramps when they are young, are told it is normal with no one asking about the duration or intensity. Then as these young women get older, the cramps get worse and they continue to live with it. It becomes their normal – EVERY MONTH.
Incontinence? Not normal but COMMON, oh so common. Usually as incontinence gets worse, women limit their activities so as not to be embarrassed. Frequently this issue is not addressed with doctors or when it is women are told to “get some Depends” or “just do some Kegels.” Incontinence becomes their new normal EVERY DAY.
Abnormal postpartum pain? Another instance where a woman just assumes there will be pain. And if no one informs her what is normal pain versus “call the doctor if you feel this pain” kind of pain then she just assumes she must grin and bear it like the millions of women before her who have given birth. Sometimes this pain can take over and keep them from enjoying this time with their new baby.
Pelvic pain after exercising? Not normal, but also not easily relatable to a specific activity. So a woman runs a half-marathon or bikes for miles and miles, then she comes home feeling those endorphins, until pain – usually fairly severe arrives. But I think because it is JUST her pelvis as opposed to her knee, shoulder, back or hip she just accepts it. She might think “I only use that thing for sex and even that is rare anymore, so I will ignore it.” And overtime this pain may become a CONSTANT reminder of how fit you are in terms of exercise, and just how unfit your pelvis is and how you have created this normal for yourself.
Pain and heaviness associated with urination? Unspecified pelvic pain? These two might be the most insidious because they often are not something diagnosable or recognized by doctors. The symptoms might be nebulous at best and unpredictable. And then you never know when these issues might pop up – on your vacation, honeymoon, long car ride? Then it becomes like your car – when your car is making a bad noise, until you take it to the mechanic when it miraculously stops. And then you try to describe it and where it is coming from “I feel a burning but not burning when I pee, but I don’t pee and then it is heavy, but not, understand?” or “I have pain on the right up and inside, but not inside more like in an area but it is dull unless it is stabbing and sometimes more when I sit, except at home.” And then the mechanic/doctor looks at you like you are speaking in tongues. Your new normal is unpredictable and stressful and makes you feel isolated and a little bit crazy.
Pain during sex? I think this may be more common than we know. I think often a woman might feel something between discomfort and outright pain during sex. And unfortunately, she does not tell her partner before hand, does not interrupt during and never sees a need to mention it to her doctor. Maybe each time there is hope that maybe there won’t be any pain this time and then the pain comes agan. And so it becomes a situation of grin and bear it until you can not grin or bear it. And if every time you think sex might be an option you start worrying about the possible pain, and tense up – how could you possibly enjoy yourself? So by avoiding sex, possibly avoiding your partner there becomes no need to discuss it with your doctor because there is no more sex and no more pain. That new normal is sexless, and hides the pain under the covers.
Only you know what is normal and what seems off when it comes to your body. Only you can spur the process of finding a solution. Ladies, it is up to you to take the bull by the horns, err, vulva by the hairs and find a solution. My first suggestion is to begin with a diary to track your issue in relation to food, stress, your cycle, sleep, triggers, and whatever else might be a factor. This is a great tool you can then show a professional. Other ways you can start to take control including: coming to one of my workshops (or a schedule a private session), checking into Arvigo Mayan Abdominal Therapy, find a women’s health Physical Therapist or go see your doctor. Just do something to help you and your pelvis!