Child’s pose and happy baby are for adults too

Child's pose - when sex hurts there is hopeDon’t be fooled by the names of these yoga poses—child’s pose and happy baby are great for all ages. I previously shared how beneficial I believe yoga to be for those with pelvic pain (Go with the yoga flow). Now I want to share my two favorite poses for hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction: child’s pose and a modified version of happy baby. Both of these poses were recommended by my physical therapist and incorporated into my home therapy long before I ever attended a yoga class. If you have not yet discovered these poses, I hope that you can incorporate them into your own healing practice as well.

Child’s pose and modified happy baby are my go-to poses for when I have flare ups of pelvic pain and muscle spasms, and I think you’ll see why. Continue reading

Have higher expectations

Have higher expectations - when sex hurts there is hopeIn life and relationships we will often receive advice to temper our expectations of others. We hear things like “give them the benefit of the doubt”, “nobody’s perfect” and “be reasonable.” While that advice is all well and good and often important to keep in mind, there is also a danger to that way of thinking. We run the risk of lowering our expectations too much and settling for a life or a relationship that is not fair to ourselves as individuals. Continue reading

Hypertonic what?

hypertonic pelvic floor muscle dysfunction - when sex hurts there is hopeI have mentioned in previous posts that I have something called hypertonic pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. That is kind of a long and complicated name, so I want to take a moment to explain what it actually means. I ask for some grace from any physical therapists or doctors out there who are reading this as I may not be perfectly accurate in some aspects of my definition. And, I encourage those of you who do not yet have an accurate diagnosis to do some additional research from a more medically based source (and Wikipedia doesn’t count). However, this should provide you with a good introduction based on my personal understanding and experience with hypertonic pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Continue reading

Don’t give up

If you are still searching for a correct diagnosis, or waiting for treatments to work their healing effects, I want to encourage you to keep searching and keep working. I know how discouraging it is to go from doctor to doctor trying to find out what is causing painful sex. I went three years, through six different doctors and multiple tests and treatments before finally getting a correct diagnosis of hypertonic pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. Then, after two years of physical therapy I went through a couple more doctors to address the pain issues stemming from unbalanced hormones. During that first searching process I actually did give up at one point. But, the pain kept coming so I had to keep going.

It takes courage to not give up when doctor after doctor tells you they don’t know what is wrong. Draw that courage from wherever you can. don't give up - when sex hurts there is hopeMaybe it is from the countless others who have dealt with and overcome similar pain issues.* Or perhaps by connecting with those who have overcome other types of obstacles. Maybe you can draw courage from your spouse and the hope of what can be on the other side of healing. For me, I was able to draw courage from my faith.  Knowing that God was with me helped give me courage to keep trying. Continue reading

The long road to healing (this is my story…part 5)

That first physical therapy session was certainly an experience.  If I had to use three words to describe it I would say it was awkward, painful, and enlightening.  Awkward might be a bit of an understatement.  I’ll just sum it up by saying that the most effective way of reaching the pelvic floor muscles is internally (and anyone who knows basic female anatomy should realize that leaves only two options).  Certain aspects were painful, but it was a different kind of pain.  By painful, I mean it literally felt like she was digging her fingernails into me, even though she was barely applying gentle pressure with her soft fingertips.  And by different, I mean the pain was not excruciating, and it was the type of pain that was beneficial.  It is like the pain you feel when someone is massaging a knot out of a tight muscle—it’s a healing pain.

Overall that physical therapy appointment was incredibly enlightening.  Between the painful trigger points (aka muscle knots), clear referral patterns across muscle groups, and the histamine release just from skin rolling, I pretty much fit the textbook description of hypertonic pelvic floor muscle disorder.*  It was amazing to finally find a right diagnosis!

But physical therapy is not an overnight fix—it has truly been a long road to healing.  I began weekly sessions, but had flare ups of my sciatica which would leave me with back pain for days after each appointment.  Eventually I started taking Lyrica, which helped to calm my nervous system and allowed me to continue physical therapy without the painful flare ups.  My physical therapist also showed me how to continue therapy between sessions through self-treatment techniques such as skin rolling, effective stretching, and using dilators.  After a year I was eventually able to reduce my PT appointments to once a month and even stopped taking Lyrica several months later.

Most importantly, I was finally able to have pain-free sex!

*If you aren’t sure what trigger points, referral patterns or histamine release are, don’t worry.  I’ll go into more detail about skin rolling and other aspects of my physical therapy treatment in later posts.