Last week my patient walked into the office and proceeded to pull a magazine out of a brown paper bag. She proudly displayed her copy of “Women’s Health” and flipped to an article, saying “They mention you in here a couple of times.” My mind searched for the last time that I was interviewed by a national magazine with a readership of over a million women, and then I realized that by saying “you” she meant “us.” As in pelvic rehabilitation therapists.
The article that she referred to, “When Sex Hurts: How to turn the ouch back into ahh”, is a great read for the public learning basic information about pain during sex. Topics such as lubrication, using positions of comfort, increasing time of foreplay, post-partum hormonal shifts, and vaginismus are discussed. Physical therapy is listed specifically for the treatment of vulvodynia and for vaginismus. Although not all pelvic rehab specialists are physical therapists, the majority of the providers at Institute courses are PT’s. Any increase in public awareness is good for medical providers, for patients, and for us.
You might have seen the post on Oprah’s website about pelvic floor therapy. While I find myself cringing a bit when I read terms such as “ladyparts” (mostly because we work so diligently at normalizing anatomy terms including vagina, clitoris, penis) the truth is that the first thing to normalize is the fact that men and women need to share what is happening in their bodies. I meet so many patients who apologize for telling me what they are experiencing, and I wish each patient knew how often I have heard the same stories in the clinic.
Helping patients understand just how prevalent pelvic floor dysfunction is can be very encouraging for them. Take articles like this or opportunities when pelvic dysfunction makes it to Oprah to expose patients to the commonplace diagnoses that we hear about every day. Reach out to a local magazine, newspaper, or other media to share what you know and to educate your public about the opportunities that are available.
PS In the same issue of Women’s Health (September) there is an interesting article about male sexual health. You will find recommendations for Kegel exercises in it!