Yep, pelvic floor therapy is awkward. Just the nature of giving that part of your body attention can be embarrassing for many people. But is it worth it? Absolutely.
I had two kids in 20 months. I had no intention of “bouncing back,” but every intention of jumping forward with my new body and without pain.
Women’s bodies go through a lot during pregnancy — especially our pelvic floors. But it’s not just how you birth your baby that changes your pelvic floor, it’s being pregnant for 40+ weeks. It’s having a tiny human growing and bouncing around in your uterus that changes your pelvic floor.
The good news: our pelvic floor is designed to support the bladder, rectum, and uterus. While pregnancy, birth, and postpartum change our pelvic floor muscles, they can still heal and adapt.
I’ve seen three pelvic floor therapists during two pregnancies and two postpartum periods. I’ve gone to many physical therapy sessions, complete with internal vaginal exams and external manipulation of my c-section scar tissue. It’s been uncomfortable and unpleasant, and it’s also healed me and made me stronger.
There are many reasons to do pelvic floor therapy, but here are, in my opinion, the top four benefits:
1. A better sex life
I was terrified of having painful sex after having kids. I think if all women were honest, they would say the same thing — unless they knew about the power of pelvic floor therapy.
Of course, it takes time to heal after being pregnant and giving birth. And yes, it won’t be the exact same, and your hormones are a bit out of whack for a while (so lay on that lube). But it can be just as good, and maybe even better.
Nothing makes you appreciate sex more than no longer having an ever-expanding bowling ball between you and your partner.
Scar tissue, whether it comes from tearing while pushing or from a c-section, can make sex painful or uncomfortable. (I pushed and had c-sections, so I can vouch for this.) My physical therapist was able to help with perineal massage (yes, the internal massage of your vaginal canal) and with c-section scar tissue mobilization.
She also taught me how to do it at home, which sped up my healing time. The result? No pain or discomfort during sex. [Insert your own hallelujah chorus here.]
2. A stronger core
Having a strong, reliable core is about so much more than looks — it’s about function. My goal for physical therapy wasn’t to build six-pack abs, but to get rid of back pain and heal the stomach muscles that pregnancy and c-section surgeries had weakened.
The pelvic floor is part of our core; it works with the abdominals, back muscles, and leg muscles to give you stability and strength while you move.
My pelvic floor therapist taught me to contract and relax my pelvic floor, activate my transverse abdominal muscles, and retrain my tight hamstrings and back muscles that had become strained during pregnancy.
We slowly but surely increased my exercises to rebuild my core strength. Goodbye, back pain. See you later, hip pain.
3. A deeper understanding of my own anatomy
Did you know 46% of women can’t label their own vaginal anatomy? They don’t even know how many holes they are supposed to have “down there.” To be fair, there isn’t a class on vaginal anatomy in high school or college. But if you go to pelvic floor therapy, you will learn all about your anatomy.
During my pelvic floor physical therapy, I learned how to connect with my body and deepen my understanding of exactly how my pelvic floor works in tandem with my body. Though I paid for each appointment, the education it’s given me is priceless.
4. The confidence to (safely) return to exercise
Women can have many issues postpartum like diastasis recti, urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, etc. Sure, some may require more treatment than others, but most of the time you can fix the issue.
I didn’t immediately go back to planks, jump squats, or running after birth, but by the time I did, I was 100% confident I could do whatever I wanted without pain. Pelvic floor therapy helped me regain confidence in my ability to work out without feeling worried.
Now, I can do any movement I want, and it feels great. (Okay, any movement except running, because I think running is boring, but at least it’s not painful.)
How do you know if you need pelvic floor therapy?
If you’ve given birth or you’re pregnant, then yes, you should definitely see a pelvic floor therapist.
Many women go to a pelvic floor physical therapist because they’re feeling pain during sex, suffering from pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, or even fecal incontinence. But you can also see a pelvic floor therapist to stop issues before they begin. Even if you’ve never been pregnant, you can still see a pelvic floor therapist for preventative care.
You can search for a pelvic floor therapist here and see who is covered under your insurance.
My personal advice: go get a checkup with a pelvic floor therapist. What’s the worst thing that happens? An improved sex life? A stronger core? I’ll take that any day.