The Low-Down on Pelvic Physio – Part 1

I’ve noticed that many people find this blog because they are searching Google for information about physiotherapy for vaginismus. At first, this made me really excited ’cause I like to think of myself as a bit of an expert in the area, having gone through months of treatment successfully.  Then I realized, I don’t really give that much information about the physiotherapy process on this site, and I certainly remember being totally baffled as to what a physiotherapist could possibly do to help me. I had been to physio for back and ankle problems in the past – but I could not fathom how a physiotherapist was supposed to help with the vag.

So, if you’re in the same boat – this post is for you! I’m about to get a little graphic on you, so please only read on if you want to know exactly what happened in my physio sessions.

*DISCLAIMER* Pelvis physiotherapy was the single most life-altering treatment I received for my vaginismus.  I truly believe that without my therapy, I would not have been able to beat this.  That being said, I’m only documenting my personal experience. I do not know if the practices of all pelvic physiotherapists are the same, and I cannot guarantee that this will work for you as well.  I can only hope that the information I provide here for you will be helpful to you, and, as always, feel free to email me with any additional questions you might have.

I was referred to my pelvic floor physiotherapist by a sex therapist that my husband and I were seeing.  In fact, I think it was one of the first things the sex therapist did, and to be honest, I was completely and utterly wary.  I had been dealing with vaginismus for YEARS, and by this point, had convinced myself that it was mostly a mental/emotional issue for me.  So, I really felt that seeing a pelvic physiotherapist was going to be a total waste of time, but I wanted to humour our new sex therapist, so I agreed to the first appointment.

I had no idea what to expect at that first meeting – but I was nervous. The woman that greeted me in the waiting room was, in a word, adorable. She was bright, bubbly, friendly, compassionate, and when we sat down to go over my history, I really felt like she listened to me and understood what I was saying.  I didn’t feel like a weirdo, which, after seeing multiple medical experts over many years, was a breath of fresh air.

At that first meeting, we spent a lot of time discussing my history with vaginismus.  She asked detailed questions about my pain levels in various situations – sitting, peeing, tampon-usage, intercourse attempts. She also asked about other therapy that I was undergoing (which, at the time, was anxiety counseling and the sex therapist). This initial appointment was 45 minutes long, and I think we spent about 30 minutes of it, just talking.

After we had gone through my whole history, in great detail, she asked if I would be comfortable with her examining me.  She explained that to do so, she would leave the room, and I would undress from the waist-down, cover myself with the hospital gown, and hop up on the massage table.  She would then come back into the room, and do a visual and light-touching exam of my vaginal area – but only to the point where I was comfortable. By this point, I really was feeling quite safe around her, and so I agreed. She set about setting up the massage table with sheets and pillow props to make me comfortable and then left the room.

And to be honest, my first exam with her, was quite comfortable.  Her ground rule was that I was to never feel pain above a “4″ on a scale of one to ten (one being no pain, ten being the most pain ever).  So, I was able to verbally let her know if things were ever too uncomfortable, and she was always asking me how I was doing.  There was always constant communication.

During the exam, she wore gloves and had a small amount of lubricant on her fingertips.  She would then use her fingertips to apply small amounts of pressure around the outside of my vagina (again, only to a level “4″ of pain). This was not actually painful for me, but it did require an incredible amount of trust with a woman I had only just met.  However, because she had spent so much time with me discussing my problem, I really felt that I could trust her completely.

I don’t believe that she actually inserted her fingertip into my vagina during the first appointment, but I do recall her saying that “everything looked normal” which, to me, was a huge relief.  Having only had one painful pap test before, being abnormal was a worry to me, so this made me feel a lot better. For homework, she encouraged me to practice my Kegel exercises (holding and releasing my pelvic floor muscles), and that seemed easy enough.

I left my first appointment pleasantly surprised, and actually a little bit excited to return.  Finally, I had met a healthcare professional who understood, and seemed to have a course of action to help me.

In my next post, I’ll delve further into my pelvic physio experience, including breathing, muscle stretching, wax dilators and lots of lubricant! Stay tuned!

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One Response to The Low-Down on Pelvic Physio – Part 1

  1. marge says:

    Hi,
    I’m due to see a physio in October.
    I feel scared but am so fed-up with the dreaded vag & want to have a better life-
    will read your stuff with interest & post my thoughts on my treatment!
    MX

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