There is a lot that we don’t know about endometriosis. The little that we do know is a bit grim. Pelvic pain, debilitating periods, bowel problems, possible infertility, the list is endless. What we do know seems to be in early stages of testing which is why I was reluctant to try a specific type of physiotherapy (pelvic floor physiotherapy) that I had never heard of before. In this article I hope to give a little insight into what I experienced in my first three pelvic floor physiotherapy appointments so that if you decided this is the right move for you and your battle with endo then you are not left in the dark about what they do and how it may help you.
I had heard a lot of no’s while trying to find something that helps my endo symptoms. So naturally I put a lot of pressure on these appointments, in so many ways it was my last chance for pain relief. So there I was. I was fighting every urge to leave. There was no turning back. After many questions about my medical history and how my body works I then learnt how to pass a number two properly. Yes you read that correctly. Apparently we have all learnt naturally the wrong way to poo. I won’t go into excruciating detail but you have to learn to stop forcing it (yes pun intended!!). She also started to teach me to control all the different muscles ‘down there’. Both holes individually clenching and releasing. This is so you start to feel more in control. Something I realized very quickly I have none of. The best part, which can also be the worst, is being given endo homework. Practicing everything I had learnt to do that appointment. I left with a diagrams, articles about how pain works in our bodies and a cd about relaxation. I walked out of my first appointment feeling very happy and extremely overwhelmed. It was the first time I had been told ‘all of these problems you have can be maintained so you have a better quality of life’. A little glimmer of hope spread through my body. Was I becoming more positive about endo?? That question was answered after my first internal exam (yep they are not great) in my 3rd appointment.
I was less apprehensive to return to my physio second time around. After getting homework and working at it as much as I could I could see small changes that were significant to me as I started to realise that I was in control of some aspects of my endo. We started the session off with an external exam. I showed her how I stood; talked about the different exercises I did and she showed me how to limit the pain on my lower back. This is where we get a little touchy. Literally. Off went the undies and an external exam ‘down there’ started. I was incredibly nervous but how were we going to get anywhere if she doesn’t examine what she has to work with? So you put up with it and answer every question as best you can. In the end it was not as bad as I expected it to be. It was the words ‘well next time we will work with the dilators and I will do a more internal exam’ that made me sweat.
I believe you get nervous about an extensive internal vaginal exam whether you are 21 and have endo or you are 55 going for a pap smear. It’s a hard thing being a woman. I knew what was coming cause of my research and I was not looking forward to it. So after the hard part of the exam had finished (which I had to refrain from crying) it was all very straight forward after that. The dilators are there to train your muscles to loosen up and help you be in control. It’s all about YOU being in control and making sure you are relaxed knowing there is no pressure. And they do work!!!!!!!!!!!!!
There is a silent code between endo women. We need to share EVERYTHING. May it be about our bowel movements or even what happens in our pelvic floor appointments, others must know and can relate! This and the fact I want to help as many women as I can with endometriosis are the main reasons for writing this article. It is easy to feel alone with it comes to your endo. You feel like know one understands the everyday struggle and the different things you need to do to ensure a pain free day. Some days we are not that lucky. I hope you book an appointment. All my love endo sisters!!