For most, the term physical therapy applies only to parts of the body other than your vagina. Nonetheless, certain vulvo-vaginal conditions may require to be treated hands-on (figuratively and literally). If you are suffering from some of these symptoms or conditions, you could very well benefit from vaginal physical therapy.
If you’re unfamiliar with it, you’re not alone.
The first time I heard about vaginal physical therapy, I was shocked! I did not know what this type of therapy was about and I wanted to learn more. I saw it on TV, but when I researched online there is limited information about it and my gynecologist has never told me about it either. —Ileana B., Dallas, TX
I have vaginismus. I can’t have intercourse with my husband. It is very frustrating! However, my gynecologist has never told me about vaginal physical therapy. Now, I am going to ask her for it! —Jazmin L., Dallas, TX
WHAT IS VAGINAL PHYSICAL THERAPY?
Vaginal physical therapy is an intervention designed to bring your pelvic muscles back into shape. Specifically, the therapy is designed to rehabilitate the pelvic floor, and the muscles from the abdominal, gluteal, lumbrosacral and hip area and pudendal nerve mobilization, connective tissue mobilization, and myofascial (connective tissue) trigger point release of the surrounding muscles and tissues. Vaginal physical therapy consists of massages, specific vulvo-vaginal area exercises, and biofeedback with the use of devices designed to measure the muscular responses of the pelvic muscles and to electronically re-educate your vaginal muscles.
Some of the conditions that could benefit from vaginal physical therapy are:
- Pudendal Neuralgia: the pudendal nerve branches into the inferior rectal, the perineal (which branch into the perineum, vagina, labia, and urethra; and the dorsal nerve of the clitoris) and the external anal sphincter, the sphincter of the bladder, and the pelvic floor muscles. Pudendal neuralgia can include symptoms such as pelvic pain with sitting, discomfort with clothes that fit too tight, bladder and/or bowel movement issues; painful sexual intercourse and/or pain and/or spams after orgasm.
- Pelvic Pain: prevalence of pain that is unexplained and that occurs in the pelvic region and the abdominal area without the presence of disease.
- Dyspareunia: dyspaurenia’s symptoms consist of pain with initial penetration, deep penetration, thrusting, and insufficient lubrication.
- Endometriosis: endometriosis is when tissue similar to the one found in the uterus grows outside the uterus in the ovaries and fallopian tubes and menstrual endometrium regurgitates from the uterus, through the fallopian tubes into the pelvis and the peritoneal cavity. This tissue can also appear in scars from c-sections and laparoscopies and other organs. Endometriosis can cause dyspareunia and abdominal cramps, among other symptoms.
- Lichens Planus: consists of skin lesions, scarring, and adhesions that may narrow the vagina.
- Lichens Sclerosus: these lesions may cause itching and burning and painful intercourse.
- Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID): PID is an infection of the reproductive organs which results in the formation of scar tissue. PID may cause chronic pelvic pain and painful intercourse, among other symptoms.
- Vaginismus: this is caused by muscle spasms that prevent penetration in the vagina.
- Vulvar Vestibulitis: consists of severe pain in the opening of the vagina and the openings of the bartholin glands.
- Vulvodynia: characterized by burning, irritation, rawness, and painful penetration.
BENEFITS OF VAGINAL PHYSICAL THERAPY
Vaginal physical therapy may improve relaxation, strength, and endurance in the muscles and tissue. Also, it can help to break down scar tissue to enhance mobility of the connective tissues of the reproductive organs, which may decrease pelvic pain and significantly reduce pain during intercourse. By implementing vaginal physical therapy to the treatment option of the conditions listed above, intercourse may greatly improve. If you experience any of the conditions listed above, consult with your physician and inquire about the possibility of incorporating vaginal physical therapy as a treatment option.
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