We are too quick to ignore the symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction — painful sex, constipation, peeing a little when you run, walk, cough, and sneeze — or to chalk them up to the price of having children or of getting older. One good look at the anatomy of the pelvic floor muscles, and it’s a wonder anyone who births a child (or lives in a body past 40) would get through the experience without some wear and tear or outright injury. If you’re suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction, you’re in good company, and you should not feel ashamed. (Trust us!) But just because these issues are common does not mean we have to accept them as normal — or permanent.
Thanks to social media, the pelvic floor is finally getting its moment in the public consciousness. “People want this information, and they’re not getting it from anywhere else. It’s literally people being like, ‘Wait, wait, wait. What is this and why didn’t anybody tell me about it?’” says Sara Reardon, a board certified pelvic floor physical therapist who goes by The Vagina Whisperer on Instagram. But awareness — while a vital first step — is not the same as treatment. And everyone deserves the attentive care and relief that, with the right provider, is very much attainable.
Help is out there. After hours of interviews with dozens of pelvic floor therapists and women dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction, we are convinced pelvic floor physical therapy saves lives. Unfortunately, access to those providers is severely lacking. (We are talking about the American healthcare system and women’s reproductive care, after all.) There simply aren’t enough pelvic floor PTs to meet the growing demand for their services, and many patients, when they do manage to get a referral, often find themselves on months-long waitlists. As always, cost is a barrier to care too.
For too long people have endured life-altering changes to their pelvic floor, often in isolation and with considerable shame. That is finally changing, albeit slowly. Preventive care for your pelvic floor should be a standard part of the healthcare experience for all pregnant and postpartum people.
— Romper Editors
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Social media has been a boon for pelvic floor awareness — but women still aren’t getting the care they need.
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