I’ve written two articles now on how I recovered fully from debilitating postpartum sexual pain (read Part 1 here and Part 2 here). Pelvic floor physical therapy was the backbone of my recovery. It’s not just for painful sex, though. A hypertonic (too-tight), dysfunctional pelvic floor can cause everything from intercourse pain to incontinence to chronic UTIs to organ prolapse.
If you have any kind of pain or dysfunction in your pelvic region, pelvic physical therapy might be able to help. For me, they were downright miraculous.
(FYI, your “pelvic floor” is the many layers of muscle that form the “bottom” of your body, stretching across your pelvic opening, holding up your organs, and controlling your orifices.)
Today, I’m sharing what pelvic floor physical therapy is like. It can sound mysterious and vaguely horrifying. Let me take away some of that mystery and horror!
I received two kinds of pelvic floor PT–pelvic floor biofeedback by a skilled technician and internal pelvic floor physical therapy from a well-trained physical therapist. (If you read my last post, you saw that the all-important second piece to my recovery puzzle was the daily physical-therapy-at-home work I did, but I’ll have to discuss all of that another day.)
What Is Biofeedback?
Biofeedback may sound “out there,” but it’s very straightforward. It typically means using an instrument to give your conscious mind real-time information about unconscious processes happening in your body. That’s it.
When your conscious mind gets this information, you have the opportunity to connect certain sensations or feelings in the body with the live readings you see. Then you can learn to alter those readings and the physiological processes that produce them.
For example, a heart rate monitor can be used as a biofeedback device. It’s giving you real-time information (feedback) about what’s happening in your body (bio). In the case of your heart rate, you are already consciously aware of it on some level (you generally know your heart’s pounding or beating slowly), but you do not perceive slight variations or consciously control it. Your nervous system does that without your conscious mind’s interference, thankyouverymuch.
Yet, you can learn to influence your heart rate. Really! Practice watching your heart rate monitor and trying to alter your pulse. You’ll notice, perhaps, that your pulse tends to slow on the exhale and that certain feelings in the body coincide with the slower heart rate. In time you’ll learn how to re-create those feelings in your body and reduce your heart rate at will. Try it. (This comes in very handy when you’re nervous and the doctor wants to take your pulse. He may then be impressed and say, “You must be a runner!” And you just smile serenely.)