Monday, February 1, 2010

What I do at the physical therapist

When I go to the physical therapist we do several things. So far my problem has been diagnosed as vaginismus, although who knows what the heck that means? What we are trying to tackle at the physical therapist is the tightness of my pelvic floor muscles. The tightness is caused by two things: 1- a physical problem (vaginismus? maybe.) and 2- it's also a mental thing. When something try's to go in down there, I can't help but clench. I've been training my body to do it for several years now. I'll take you through an appointment:

First I undress from the waist down and I lay on a giant heating pad for about 10-15 minutes. The heat is supposed to help relax the muscles and I do believe that it does help.

Then the physical therapist comes in and uses an ultrasound machine with a small probe that she puts in my vagina and pushes it around the muscles - they call these muscles the pelvic clock. She goes around the clock holding the ultrasound probe onto the muscles until they relax.

Sometimes she will follow that up with her own finger so that she can feel what the muscles are doing. (See what I mean about other people being down there more than my husband?)
Then I have a lot of homework:1) Every day I'm supposed to use dilators to do the work that the ultrasound machine does. Dilators are basically different-sized dildos. I use the small one to push on the muscles around the pelvic clock and then I use a larger one for the "prolonged stretch", which is basically just sitting there for 10 minutes with a large dilator in my vagina. This is supposed to help stretch the muscles.

2) I also have to do kegel exercises, but they aren't just your regular kegels. I have to do "quick flicks" and "long holds". Quick flicks are hold for 3 seconds, relax for 3 seconds and long holds are hold for 10 seconds, relax for ten seconds. I have to do each of these about 3 times in about 6 different positions - standing, indian style, laying on my stomach, yoga bridge. You might be thinking, if her vagina's so tight, why is she trying to strengthen her muscles? Well, I have learned that it's important to have strong muscles down there even if you have my problem of clenching too hard because it's just as important to be able to relax those muscles as it is to be able to flex them. So I do the kegels to train my muscles how to relax.

3) I also have to do leg stretches. I know! Why? I am really inflexible and this part is not fun. But all of the muscles in your legs are directly connected to your pelvic floor muscles so it's important to stretch them as well.

Well, I'm exhausted from all this explanation. I hope someone reads this and finds it helpful. Please feel free to comment on the post if you have any questions. Coming next: why I think I need more than a physical therapist - the burning problem.


Pearl said...

Hi there. I too go to a pelvic floor physical therapist; and I too use dilators for my exercises.

I suffer from pudendal neuralgia, which is not your diagnosis. However, I can definitely relate to burning pain and tight pelvic floor muscles.

Thanks for your blog. We need to bring pelvic pain out in the open.


Anonymous said...

thank you so much for blogging about this. i'm struggling with vaginismus right now and wondering if I should go to a PT but was wondering what they do there. your blog has been comforting-knowledge is power.

Anonymous said...

Where can you get dilators and how much are they?

the girl with pain "down there" said...

I got my dilators through my gynecologist, but I know you can get them here:

or here:

The second link is the brand I have, but I'm really not sure which one, if either, is better or worse. They seem pretty much the same just by looking at the pictures.

I also wrote a post about a book I read that may be helpful for you:

You should definitely look into going to a PT, but this book can help you in the mean time in figuring out how to use the dilators.

Please let me know if you have any more questions. I'm glad I could help. It helps me in dealing with this to know that as I go through this and learn more I might be helping others as well.

Corrine said...

This is so incredibly helpful! I was having some anxiety about going to a PT (I have my first appointment in two weeks) but this blog post has really assuaged my fears. Thank you for being so brave and writing about this! The information is invaluable.

the girl with pain "down there" said...

I'm so glad this has helped you. Having someone be all up in your business down there takes some getting used to, but they are all very gentle and sensitive about not only your physical pain, but your emotional state as well. They understand that this situation is very emotional. Good luck!

Jaene said...

Doing kegel exercises give me a sick feeling in my stomache:( Does it do that to you?

the girl with pain "down there" said...

No Kegel's do not give me a sick feeling - that's interesting. There are times when it's the last thing i want to do because it makes me feel wierd, but I woudn't say a sick stomach feeling.

Jaene said...

What do you mean by weird? Maybe sick isn't the best way to describe it....I don't really know how to describe the feeling, but I do know that I don't like it!

Luckycharms said...

Hi. I'm glad I found your blog. It's super helpful. I'm only 17 and I think I probably have a yeast infection too. I'll probably be going to my doctor tomorrow or the day after. The pain is minimal down there. I'm careful how I sit and stuff. I recently discovered Vulvodynia and I was thinking it's that but then I thought it's probably just yeast infection. I hope its just that, I've never had sex or anything like that. I've never known there was such a thing as Vulvodynia either. I'm really scared. I don't want to live with this forever. Hopefully my doctor recommends a gynecologist if its serious and I get some really good treatments. I don't know what to think at this point, I've never had something like this happen to me.

Heidi said...

I get that feeling too. I feel a bit nauseous and almost faint. My sister does too. It gives me an unpleasant sort of anxiety?