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pandemic life harming your pelvic floor
Photo courtesy of iStock
The Washington Post has a long history in journalism and a huge readership, so when journalist Allyson Chiu reached out to me for answers to the question "is pandemic life harming your pelvic floor?", I was understandably glad to give her my insights into this timely topic. Here is a brief synopsis of the article, along with a link to the full article below.

Heather Jeffcoat, DPT

The coronavirus pandemic has been blamed for a rise in mental health conditions, weight gain, broken toes, skin picking and dental issues.

This has led physical therapists and urologists to ask "is pandemic life harming your pelvic floor?"

Located at the base of the pelvis, the pelvic floor consists of a group of muscles that provide support for internal organs, including the bladder, rectum, uterus and prostate. The muscles are also involved in posture, urination, bowel movements and sex.

Anecdotally, some pelvic floor experts say they have seen an influx of patients during the pandemic with new or worsening pelvic floor problems related to working from home and heightened levels of stress and anxiety. “The combination of stress and then just sitting and not getting up to go to do those different activities throughout your workday definitely seem to have contributed to people’s symptoms,” said Alicia Jeffrey-Thomas, a pelvic floor physical therapist at Greater Boston Urology.

What causes pelvic floor dysfunction?

Pelvic floor dysfunction is “a broad term for anything that’s happening with the pelvic floor that is not a normal state,”

said Heather Jeffcoat, president-elect of the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy, and typically occurs when the muscles are either overactive or underactive. Symptoms include pain in the pelvic area or during sex, as well as difficulties with urination and bowel movements, experts said. In some people, problems can lead to pelvic organ prolapse, which is when your organs drop out of their normal position because the pelvic floor can no longer support them.

The most widely known cause of pelvic floor dysfunction is pregnancy and delivery, Austin said, noting that both vaginal and Caesarean delivery can result in muscle trauma. Other factors that can increase your chances of developing problems are aging; trauma to the pelvic area, including sexual abuse; surgeries, such as prostatectomies or gender-affirming procedures; and overusing the pelvic muscles by, for example, going to the bathroom too often or straining too hard, which can lead to poor muscle coordination, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Overactive muscles are often responsible for pain symptoms and can also complicate urination and make it harder to have a bowel movement. Although people often associate underactive — longer and overstretched — muscles with urinary incontinence, experts emphasized that the overactive muscles, which are also weak and not coordinated, could be to blame.

Although pelvic floor problems are common, Jeffcoat urged people not to dismiss their symptoms as “normal.”

Is pandemic life harming your pelvic floor? Continue reading the full article here.



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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!

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I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me for the past 19 months. I literally could not have reached my goals without you and your practice. You gave me the courage to keep moving forth with my treatment no matter how afraid and anxious I was. You were always there to answer questions and made this whole process so much easier than I expected it to be.

It's because of you that my marriage is on the right track, that I can get pregnant and that this part of my life is finally over. I really feel that Fusion Wellness is a team of people you can call family and are there to root for you and cheer you on until you reach your goals. There is nothing better than knowing I accomplished this with you guys by my side and as calmly and patiently as I needed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there and helping me reach my goals.

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I wish i could give this place 10 stars!! 
I have been suffering from vaginismus for 5 years and never found the cure to it. I had seen an ob/gyn and he diagnosed me with vaginismus and told me i needed a surgery to cure my condition, which i refused to do. He also referred me to a PT that he works with, i had given them multiple calls and they never responded back to me, so i started searching yelp for another PT. I am SO HAPPY I found Heather's office! I was working with Laureen, and with her guidance and techniques i was able to be cured from vaginismus in only 2 1/2 short months!!! I couldn't believe how quickly their program worked for me! I am forever grateful and thankful from Heather, and Laureen! They are the absolute best at what they do!

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Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

I can’t speak highly enough of the theapists at Femina Physical Therapy and how much they have helped me grow, discover, and love my body. I had had painful sex for my entire life, and didn’t know that there was anything that could be done about it. It was at the point where my husband and I were not having sex for MONTHs, because it was just too frustrating, and I hated feeling like I was the ONLY woman out there who had this problem, especially at my age. I finally brought it up to my doctor because I was turning 40 and my husband and I were barely having enough sex to conceive. And she brought up pelvic floor, PT. I didn’t even know this was a “thing”.

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While pregnant with my twins, Heather took care with keeping me on my feet and pain free. She saved my back, my sanity and the holidays! I would recommend her to every “mom” looking to stay on her feet during pregnancy and post-partum.

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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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