Ending Female Pain

Isa Herrera started in her unusual line of work, when as a pre- and post-natal fitness instructor, women started asking her questions about pelvic pain, and she couldn’t answer them nor help them. So, she got her Masters degree in Physical Therapy, “studied with the best teachers, shadowed many doctors in their practices, and took countless courses on the topic of PFM [pelvic floor muscle] dysfunction.” After years of working with women who suffered from acute or chronic pelvic pain (which can take many forms, including “referred” pain, where you hurt in other parts of the body, like your back and hips, although due to messed up pelvic muscles), she opened a healing center, where women could come to her for help. Through this experience, she was able to develop a program comprising many different tools, exercises and techniques, that women can use at home to help them reduce or even eliminate their pelvic pain.

Many women, such as myself, have never had problems like she describes; but for the women who do have these problems, this book could be a powerful and transforming tool to help them overcome what might seem to be insurmountable or unchangeable problems. Here is a list of symptoms of “pain down there” as reported by her patients, which can be helped by pelvic floor exercises, as described in her book.

  • Emotional (usually in combination with other symptoms) – catastrophic thinking, isolation, strained relationship with partners, depression, sadness, guilt, sleep disturbances, suicidal tendencies/thoughts, emotionally unavailable
  • Muscular – Pain in the gluteal or back muscles, knees or abdominal area; generalized soreness in pelvic floor muscles; PFM spasms, PFM trigger poitns, constant or sharp-like pains in muscles associated or near the vagina; PFM weakness
  • Rectal – bleeding with defecation, constipation, pain with defecation, redness around the anus, burning-like pain, itching, pushing to get feces out, feelings of pelvic pressure, pain in the rectum after orgasms, pain or irritation with thong underwear
  • Skin – allergies to metals, perfumes; sensitive skin; irritation with certain toilet papers, tampons, or sanitary napkins; itching, sensitivity to soaps, painful scars, feelings of vaginal swelling, burning pain in the labia, constant ache throughout the vulva, raw feeling in the vaginal tissues
  • Vaginal – painful intercourse; vaginal itching, burning, rawness; constant awareness of vaginal area with certain clothing; pain with touching/wiping; pain at opening or deep inside; clitoral or labial pain; cuts in the vagina; skin patches of varying colors; pelvic pressure – feels like something is falling out of the vagina
  • Urinary – painful urination, urgency and frequency of urination, suprapubic pain, hesitancy in getting urine out, slow urine stream, feelings of incomplete emptying, habit of pushing urine out, vaginal stinging with urination, urethral pain, feelings of pelvic pressure, leaking with coughing, sneezing or laughing

Unfortunately, many doctors are unable to help — some are even worse than unhelpful, telling women that the pain is “all in their heads” [Yeah — that’s helpful!] — or are only able to offer mild or moderate symptom control, through medications, creams, or surgery.

The book itself is easy to read and understand — I read through it all in one day (skimming the exercise portions) — with clear drawings and pictures to help you understand what to do. There are numerous types of exercises, including Kegels, reverse Kegels, using an exercise ball, yoga/stretching exercises, and using a foam roller; as well as a chapter devoted to “stretching at the workplace.” Then there are self-care techniques which include using an internal dilator, internal and external hands-on techniques, and scar techniques (for an episiotomy or natural childbirth tear, as well as for C-section scars). [Some women may find these techniques a little too, um, “up close and personal” for them to be comfortable doing them; but it doesn’t have to be any more “sexual” than getting a pelvic exam from a midwife or doctor.] Plus chapters on “basic tools for better vulvar skin care,” bathroom habits, “tools of the trade,” and visualization and strategy techniques; as well as appendices and an index for easy reference.

Fortunately for me, I haven’t needed the information in this book (although I am planning on doing some of the exercises anyway, because they seem to be helpful for strengthening the PFM in a preventive manner, even if you don’t have “problems”); but I know that many women will experience pelvic pain, for whatever reason (a traumatic childbirth, sexual abuse, etc.), and this book can help. I’m glad to have it in my library, to be able to lend to those who need it.

4 Responses

  1. Great! I will look into this. I have no problems either now, but the few months that I did were excruciating.

    Every month for about 5-6 month, I would get this excruciating pain the first day of my period. I would be bending over and passing a bowel movement was extremely painful. When I fainted the last time it happened, because of the pain, I went to see my midwife. I thought I had endometriosis because it seemed to fit many of the symptoms but it did not fit all. My midwife checked me and suspected a rectocele. This was just 4 months ago, so not directly after Thomas was born by any means. I never suspected I could have that. Anyway, she recommended seeing a therapist specializing in pelvic floor and all, but also gave me some homeopathic Ignatia. The first month the pain was considerably less but not gone so I was skeptical, but the second month it was gone and it hasn’t come back.

    I never did go see a therapist, but I have been focusing on deep kegels. I have leanred that if done improperly, kegels only reach the outside area of the vagina and surrounding muscles. To go deeper you need to add different things.

    I have no clue why I developed a rectocele, my births have all been great with not tearing whatsoever, but there is my story.

    I have since found that many women experience great pain to the point of fainting on the first day of their period and I make a point of mentioning this possibility to them. You never know.

  2. Does she deal with pelvic girdle pain?

  3. Here’s a review of the book from ICAN.

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