living life yellow.
the ramblings of a girl with endometriosis
Pelvic pain sucks. There is so many muscles and nerves down there that sometimes, once the "problem," (@endometriosis) is "gone," you still suffer from pain! After having 3 surgeries last year, I (and my specialist) and pretty sure most the endo is out so we need to look at some other options, which is when I got referred to a gynaecological physio! Sounds kinda weird but you would have physio after any other injury or operation so why wouldn't you for your vag?
Before my appointment I was pretty nervous. I'm pretty used to having vagina chat to people but I was worried that things were going to get hands on, as physios tend too.
I brought Leo (my partner) along with me. I mainly did this so he can learn about what I'm meant to be doing, and make sure I actually do it, but I also wanted a support person with me. My physio was Julee Binns at Oxford Women's Health. First impression was she was super nice, and really chilled. My nervousness eased pretty quickly, which was great.
She first asked me what my main concerns were, which are:
She explained that when someone suffers from a painful condition that the muscles are pretty much always clenched, meaning the tightness and tension are at an all time high, and that's not doing you any favours. The muscles don't know how to relax and they are overworked, hence the pain.
Here's what Julee had to say/did to help me in my appointment as told by me.
Painful sex is a common symptom of endo. It can get made worse due to the tightening and tension of the muscles down there. She suggested using dilators, which I already have been using (read part 1 and part 2 of the dilators diaries here.) She said one of the best ways to use them is as a part of foreplay. Get your vag used to the feeling and to warm it up for some banging. She also checked that we were obviously using lube, which we do (coconut oil, oil based so don't use it with condoms if you don't want babies pls.) Julee also suggested we try lignocaine (can be prescribed by your doc,) which is a topical that you can apply down there to numb the outer area, to kinda take the edge of the initial pain to get you going.
General Pelvic Pain
So turns out I have a weird body. A lot of things are out of line due to the way I hold myself. My core/pelvis isn't very strong due to the constant pain, I tend to use my leg muscles to help hold me up, which is apparently wrong. After a wee feel around my hips and tummy, she came to a conclusion that my pelvis is actually twisted; again due to the muscles being so clenched, they contorted. She pulled out a weird looking belt (think pregnancy belt,) called a "Serola Pelvic Support Belt,' which will provide support around my pelvis, and keep it in line. By giving my pelvis support, it's going to take the extra work load off my legs, as I will hopefully start to feel able to use my pelvic muscles again!
It also turns out I haven't been breathing properly, which again, is common in those with chronic pain. Because the pain in my pelvis is usually quite sore, I don't breathe deeply, into my tummy like I'm meant too as it aggravates the pain. Instead, I just breathe short breaths from my chest which has caused my diaphragm to become super tight, which also doesn't help the pain (turns out everything in our bodies are connected... who knew!?) So now I have to practice breathing properly, into my my stomach as much as I can.
This is most likely caused by the tension and tightness in the muscles around it, and hopefully after a few sessions of physio, it will come right. When I was talking about how I need to pee like every 30 minutes and how it puts me off drinking as it just goes straight through me, she said something that surprised me. Sometimes when you aren't drinking enough fluid, it can irritate your bladder due to the high concentration, therefore making it sore and giving you the urgency to flush it out. Drink heaps of water guys; your bladder will thank you.
Overall the appointment was a success. She sent me away with just a little bit of homework (use dilators, wear belt, breathe properly and drink more water) which was great as I've often left physio appointments with a list of exercises and stretches to do, which I never actually do. Keeping it simple and realistic worked for me and I felt as if I had learnt a lot. The appointment was non invasive, which I was surprised about, but I suspect as the sessions continue, we will eventually get to a point where we will have to actually suss out where the actual problem lies.
I have my next appointment in 5 weeks, which gives me enough time to wear my belt and practice my breathing, to see if it makes a difference. Until then here's a video for a laugh.