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Heather Jeffcoat at Buzzfeed
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questions you are too embarrassed to ask
Yulia Lisitsa / Getty Images/iStockphoto
When Buzzfeed journalist Shelby Heinrich did a deep dive with her readership into the "questions you are too embarrassed to ask", I was honored to help. There were 15 questions in all, and here is a brief synopsis of the article, along with a link to the full article below.

Heather Jeffcoat, DPT

Questions You Are Too Embarrassed To Ask When it Comes to "Down There"

We asked the BuzzFeed Community if they ever had a question about ~down there~ that they might be too embarrassed or intimidated to ask, and they came through with lots of insightful questions! So, we reached out to Dr. Heather Jeffcoat, DPT, a licensed pelvic floor physical therapist and owner of Femina Physical Therapy in Los Angeles, to answer your pelvic health inquiries.

Here is a sampling of the questions you are too embarrassed to ask:

1. "Why do I have to pee so often? I barely drink any liquids throughout the day, because otherwise I’d be peeing even more than I already am."

Dr. Jeffcoat:

Patients will often tell me they restrict their fluid intake in order to reduce their urinary frequency, and are surprised when they have to pee more often. This happens because when you restrict your fluid intake, your urine becomes more concentrated, which acts as an irritant to your bladder, much in the same way that alcohol, and spicy or acidic food and drink will affect your bladder.

5."How can I stop having painful penetrative sex, and would a pelvic floor therapist help? If so, do I need a referral from my OB-GYN to see one?"

Dr. Jeffcoat:

A pelvic floor physical therapist is a crucial part of your care team if you're experiencing painful penetrative sex. Many states allow Direct Access for receiving a physical therapy evaluation and treatment. However, most offices that specialize in pelvic health still require medical clearance from a physician, since pelvic health specialists can’t test for infection, hormonal insufficiencies, or other medical causes of your pain. Many patients will come to my office and say, "My doctor couldn’t find anything wrong with me," which usually means the muscles and tissue in the area are contributing to the problem. This is exactly what a pelvic floor physical therapist will address.

11."I have difficulty urinating after sex, since I'm unable to get my body to relax enough to release anything. I know I’m supposed to urinate after, but is there anything I can do if I physically cannot urinate until much later? Is there anything I can do to try to relax my urethra enough to be able to pee?"

Dr. Jeffcoat:

Try taking the focus away from your urethra, and instead focus on general relaxation. You can do this while sitting on the toilet:

  1. Place your hands on the sides of your ribs. Take in a slow, five-second inhale. As you inhale, feel your ribs expand toward your hands. Visualize your lungs filling up with air and pushing your diaphragm downward.
  2. Hold your breath for two seconds.
  3. Slowly exhale for six to seven seconds.
  4. Repeat step 1, but now add the visual on the inhale of your pelvic floor muscles dropping and getting soft or heavy (whatever visual seems most relaxing to you). Don't tell your muscles to “relax," as that rarely works.
  5. Hold your breath for two seconds.

For answers to more of the questions you are too embarrassed to ask, click here to continue to the full article.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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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 P.M.

I was hopeful but frankly skeptical when the doctor treating me for Interstitial Cystitis recommended that I go to Heather for physical therapy. Medication and diet helped control my IC symptoms, but I had never heard of physical therapy being used to treat IC. The education and treatment I received from Heather was a revelation. She explained that the pain I experienced with IC had helped create a cycle of muscle guarding which affected the entire pelvic area. I had no idea of the amount of tension being held there. No wonder my husband and I had not been able to have sexual intercourse for years!

Read more: Testimonial by P.M.

Testimonial by Jamie M.

I have been going to see Heather for a while now, and I can't tell you enough how much she has improved my quality of life. Heather specializes in issues like pelvic floor, but I see her for other orthopedic issues.

I have a lot of chronic joint pain and dysfunction issues (back, hips, neck) that require that have ongoing physical therapy maintenance. The effects of my problem joints/areas overlap and interconnect with each other in complex ways, so helping me requires really having a complete understanding of the entire skeletal and muscular system. Pain does not always appear where the problem actually is, the human body is a twisty, many-layered puzzle. I have an exercise program I do at home and I am very functional, but there are just something things I need a PT to help me out with.

Read more: Testimonial by Jamie M.

Testimonial by A.M.

Months after giving birth, it was difficult for me to go from a sitting or lying position up to a full standing position without feeling that I had to remain hunched over until a bit of time had passed to get fully upright. However, after taking Heather’s course, I learned exercises to get my body back to normal. She also showed me correct ways to lift and carry my son as well as put him in/take him out of the carseat and stroller. This class was really beneficial and Heather is a wonderful teacher who made me feel very comfortable.

-- A.M.

Testimonial by R.S.

I wanted to thank you so much for helping me get through something I thought I may never be able to. We have achieved pain-free intercourse and this has really solidified our marriage. We are so grateful to you for all the work you do! Thank you!!

-- R.S.

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!

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