Login
Register

Home

About Us

Diagnoses

Treatments

Classes

Resources

Media

Testimonials

Blog

Account

Blog
Register
cervical cancer and recovery
Cervical Cancer & Recovery | Image Courtesy of National Cancer Institute via Unsplash

A Pelvic Floor PT Can Assist With Cervical Cancer and Recovery

Cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer affecting women worldwide.

Luckily there are many wonderful treatments that can stop the cancer, either completely or from progressing further. However, the treatments do come with some unwanted side effects. But there is help and having a pelvic floor physical therapist added to your ervical cancer support team can truly guide you along the way.

Common Cervical Cancer Treatments

Some common treatments are pelvic external beam radiotherapy and/or brachytherapy, which unfortunately can adversely affect women’s sexual functioning and quality of life. Radiotherapy especially can cause vaginal stenosis, which is narrowing of the vaginal canal. This is due to radiation effects of collagen deposition, loss of elasticity in the vaginal tissue, and atrophic changes of the mucosa. Unfortunately, 88% of women after radiation will develop vaginal stenosis. As you can imagine, narrowing of the vaginal canal can impede women’s ability to tolerate penetrative sexual intercourse or gynecologic exams, for example.

Unfortunately, 88% of women after radiation will develop vaginal stenosis."

Vaginal Stenosis & Your Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

Dilator training is one way we can try to help prevent vaginal stenosis. One study showed that after pelvic floor muscle training (given pre-treatment) and dilator training (post-treatment) for at least 4 months, women were able to maintain their vaginal integrity and minimize vaginal stenosis. In fact, some women increased their vaginal length and diameter beyond their baseline! Eighteen of the twenty-two women were sexually active by four months after treatment. If you have more questions about dilators, please check out Heather Jeffcoat’s book, Sex Without Pain. Dilators are a common tool that pelvic floor physical therapists like to utilize during treatments to help patients reach their goals. If it’s localized pain, and not connected to vaginal stenosis, there are other tools like the therawand that can also be helpful. Pelvic physical therapists also can work on the whole body perspective and work on other aspects that can contribute to overall pelvic floor dysfunction leading to incontinence, bladder urgency/pain, pain with sex, constipation, and so on!

Other Side Effects from Cervical Cancer Treatment

Another unwanted side effect from cervical cancer treatments (including surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy) is early sudden-onset menopause. Due to its sudden dramatic drop of estrogen, menopausal symptoms are experienced more severely than physiological menopause. If in menopause, the cardiovascular system and bone health are especially important to monitor. The drop in estrogen levels can lead to progression of atherosclerosis. The hormonal drop also puts women at high risk for osteoporosis with an increased fracture risk. Hormone replacement therapy may be helpful in both atherosclerosis and osteoporosis, but must be discussed with your doctor for the best individualized treatment. Check out this fantastic blog post on osteoporosis for more information. Regular weight-bearing exercise, dietary measures (calcium, vitamin D) are helpful to reduce the severity of osteoporosis. Again, physical therapists can definitely help you get started on a regimen so that you are moving and building strength to help promote cardiovascular and bone health.

If for whatever reason, you and/or your doctor are uncomfortable with hormone replacement therapy, there are non-hormonal options available to help counteract menopause vasomotor symptoms:

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) supports isoflavones (soybeans, alfalfa, red clover blossom, and Genistein/daidzein found in soy are a few examples) and black cohosh in treating some of the vasomotor symptoms, but does advise women that the “safety of individual preparatory is unknown and that they may interact with other medication.”
  • Vitamin E may help reduce flashes
  • SSRI/SNRI, gabapentin and clonidine are other prescribed medications that may help with vasomotor symptoms of menopause as well
  • Exercise and lower rates of vasomotor symptoms have been acknowledged in large observational studies
  • Pelvic floor PT to help with pelvic floor dysfunction issues related to menopause (thinning of the vaginal tissue, painful sexual intercourse, osteoporosis/strengthening)

As you can imagine, cervical cancer treatments can affect quality of life including pain, fatigue, emotional, psychological and sexual well-being. For more information on having sex after cancer, check out this blog post for more information.. Pelvic floor physical therapists would be a great addition to your support team and help guide you through some of the common symptoms experienced as well as developing an individualized program that is tailored just for you. Give us a call at Femina Physical Therapy.

 

REFERENCES:

Moss EL, Taneja S, Munir F et al. Iatrogenic Menopause After Treatment for Cervical Cancer. Clinical Oncology 2016; 28: 766-775.

Araya-Castro P, Sacomori C, Diaz-Guerrero P, et al. Vaginal Dilator and Pelvic Floor Exercises for Vaginal Stenosis, Sexual Health and Quality of Life among Cervical Cancer Patients Treated with Radiation: Clinical Report. J Sex Marital Ther 2020; 46:6: 513-527.

Cervical Cancer.” World Health Organization.

More Great Products We Love

Good Clean Love

Backed by more than 100 years of expertise

We pride ourselves on leading the industry with the most innovative and scientifically advanced Bio-Match® product formulations for vaginal care. Our Scientific Advisory Board supports our mission to be a trusted and approved brand for the many medical communities we serve.

Experience our wonderful products for yourself:

  • Almost Naked® Organic Personal Lubricant - Our certified organic, water-based lubricant is pH-balanced while helping you enhance your love life naturally. Made with aloe vera and infused with lemon and vanilla for a light flavor, our organic formula provides long-lasting glide without irritating chemicals or sticky cleanup.
  • BioNourish™ Ultra Moisturizing Vaginal Gel with Hyaluronic Acid - Nearly one in five women ages 18 to 50 experience vaginal dryness. It's not just a symptom of menopause. Dryness, and associated discomfort or unnatural odor, has a wide variety of causes and ranges from occasional mild symptoms to chronic irritation and atrophy.
  • Restore® Moisturizing Vaginal Gel - This pH-balanced and moisturizing gel may help eliminate feminine odor and relieves vaginal dryness and discomfort. Restore® promotes the maintenance of healthy vaginal flora by mimicking the body’s natural pH levels, salt balance and lactic acid produced by proven, beneficial lactobacilli.
  • BioNude™ Ultra Sensitive Personal Lubricant - Some bodies are naturally more sensitive than others, which is why we offer BioNude™ Ultra Sensitive Personal Lubricant. This water-based personal lubricant is made with hydroxyethylcellulose, a plant-based material shown to be hypoallergenic.

Use the code FEMINA at checkout to receive 20% off the entire Good Clean Love product line!

What Our Patients Have to Say

Prev
Next

Testimonial by Alexandra B.

Heather is without exaggerating AMAZING! After years of trouble with a certain part of my body, in no time, she made everything change back to equilibrium and to what would be considered normal. She explains everything in detail and therefore gives you a better understanding of why things are the way they are, and how you can work towards turning things around. I would highly recommend Heather for any type of Physical Therapy. She has created her own "Method/Therapy" through years of studying (with some of the greatest practitioners), practice and breaking down the issues of her past patients, enabling her to fine tune her own system. I'm so thankful to have found her, and I'm especially grateful for the quick recovery I've achieved, after years of distress. If you cannot afford her, I recommend you purchase her book. Although it may not be Heather in person, it can still help you to get on the right path to recovery!

-- Alexandra B., 5/20/2015 via Yelp!

Testimonial by J.B.

My husband and I were having problems with painful intercourse. My therapist recommended that I go and get a pelvic floor evaluation from a physical therapist. Having never been treated by a physical therapist, I wondered how this really was going to help me. My husband who is a physician was very supportive and agreed that a PT evaluation would be a great idea. So i made the appointment and was blown away by what I learned. I had no idea that pelvic floor muscles could get tight and have trigger points just like any other muscle in the body. I'm a massage therapist and very familiar with tight muscles, and this new thought really amazed me. Heather's program to help relax and strengthen these muscles made such a difference. I can say that I am 100% pain free during intercourse now. Yippee! Going to the PT appointments and doing the at-home exercises was definitely a discipline, but it's 100% worth it! The rewards are amazing.

-- J.B.

Testimonial by Y.L. (mom of 2)

After having my second baby via C-section I searched for months to try to find help for my lower back pain and separated abdominal muscles. I finally came across Heather Jeffcoat via a mommy blog. I reached out to her via email and set my first appointment. My first appointment went amazing … she listened to what my symptoms, check my separation and explained to me in detail what the next steps would be. Not only did my abdominal separation go from 3 to about 1 -1/2 but my back has pain has significantly reduced. I’m personally recommending all my mommy friends to Heather!

Y.L. (mom of 2)

Testimonial by J.B.

My husband and I were having problems with painful intercourse. My therapist recommended that I go and get a pelvic floor evaluation from a physical therapist. Having never been treated by a physical therapist, I wondered how this really was going to help me. My husband who is a physician was very supportive and agreed that a PT evaluation would be a great idea. So i made the appointment and was blown away by what I learned. I had no idea that pelvic floor muscles could get tight and have trigger points just like any other muscle in the body. I'm a massage therapist and very familiar with tight muscles, and this new thought really amazed me. Heather's program to help relax and strengthen these muscles made such a difference. I can say that I am 100% pain free during intercourse now. Yippee! Going to the PT appointments and doing the at-home exercises was definitely a discipline, but it's 100% worth it! The rewards are amazing.

-- J.B.

Testimonial by M.M.

My husband and I were married for 5 years and unable to have intercourse, but I never knew why. After numerous awful experiences at doctor’s offices (where many doctors told me I “just needed to relax”), a surgery that didn’t fix the problem, and a year of owning dilators that didn’t get me anywhere, someone finally referred me to Heather for Physical Therapy. I finally had answers and information from someone who knew exactly what I was dealing with!

Read more: Testimonial by M.M.

Testimonial by Julie T.

Femina PT (née Fusion Wellness & Physical Therapy) has honestly changed my life. Before receiving treatment at Femina, I was going doctor to doctor to try and find the answer to my pelvic pain. It has taken me YEARS to find someone that can help fix this. It wasn't until my gynecologist recommended your clinic that I finally felt relief. My pelvic pain is almost gone, and granted I still have a lot more to work on with Laureen (my PT), my original problem is nearly cured. I am so grateful to her.

What is even better is she gave me practical exercises to do at home that were not tedious and provided instant (and lasting) relief. Although I mainly work with Laureen, my interaction with the owner (Heather) has been great. She is very generous, kind, and committed to her business.

It hurts to know there are women out there suffering who will never know or have the opportunity to work with women like Laureen and Heather because this issue is hardly talked about and this field is so rare. I hope more doctors and physical therapists see the value in this work and can relieve more woman of their pain.

-- Julie T., 12/4/16 via Yelp!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get access to our free downloads and a 15% discount on Heather's book "Sex Without Pain"!
captcha 
I agree with the Terms and Conditions and the Privacy policy