Does my what have a what?!
You read that correctly: Does your vagina have a migraine?
Recently, I sat down with Phoenix pelvic physical therapist, Dr. Kim Bryant, to learn more about some of the common discomforts our clients have after they give birth.
Common complaints after having a baby include:
- > Urinary leaks more than 6 weeks after birth
- Holding in sneezes so you don’t pee
- Peeing when you laugh
- Wearing a pad in case you pee when you run or work out
- > Fear of pooping because bowel movements are painful since birth
- > Hip pain and/or back pain after birth that wasn’t there before birth or has gotten worse since birth.
- > Pain during or after sex since having a baby
- > General pelvic pain
- > A vagina migraine
There’s that ridiculous thing again. A migraine in your vagina. That’s really the only way I know how to describe this type of pelvic pain.
New parents sometimes disclose to us, their doulas, that they have this deep, sharp pain in their vagina. Sometimes it comes and goes, other times it lasts for hours, days, weeks. They’ve been cleared at their 6 week visit or 8 week visit with their OB but something still. just. hurts.
I asked Kim about this pelvic pain phenomenon, and she agreed emphatically that your vagina can, indeed, have a migraine. Here, she guest blogs for us about this very real pain:
What you’re calling “a migraine in your vagina” is something I run into often as a pelvic floor physical therapist, especially when working with postpartum moms, and sometimes long-past-postpartum moms. Their pain feels like a sharp, deep pressure in the vaginal or pelvic area. It may or may not have a known direct cause. It is the type of pain that makes you want to curl up in bed with a heating pad and not be bothered.
The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles that span from the front of the pubic bone in the front all the way to the tailbone and sacrum in the back. I explain to my patients that the pelvic floor muscles, the ones responsible for bowel and bladder control, pelvic stability, sexual function and organ support, are just like all the other muscles in our body.
They can get injured from childbirth, sexual trauma, or something as common as falling off a bike when you were a kid. They can have tension or abnormal strain that can be created by poor sitting posture or standing posture, and even emotional stress.
Those muscles can hold tension or be in spasm much like our shoulder and neck muscles that can contribute to migraine headaches.
What can be done to help with pelvic pain and tension?
My first recommendation is to take some deep, relaxing belly breaths and provide gentle heat to the lower stomach or pelvic floor area for at least 10 minutes at least 2 times a day. You could also take a warm bath. This will help to bring blood flow to those muscles and promote release of the tension that is causing pelvic pain.
The next step to relaxing those muscles depends on what is causing the tension. The underlying factors contributing to the pelvic pain is best determined by a physical therapy examination. This is when a pelvic floor physical therapist, like myself, will ask extensive questions about your history, assess muscle strength, motion of the muscles, and posture, and check for trigger points.
After this exam, your physical therapist will have a better understanding of why there is dysfunction in your pelvic region and how to best treat the pain. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Sometimes, you’ll go home with a few simple exercises to do, and other times you may need additional visits.
So there you have it. Your vagina can have a migraine. And if it does, Kim can help.
It’s not “just part of being a new mom” to live with pain or incontinence. Reach out for assistance and take back control of your body.
Kim earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ. She opened her practice to provide holistic rehabilitation and wellness with a focus on pelvic physical therapy. Kim has extensive training in the fields of pelvic rehabilitation and functional nutrition. Her hands-on treatment approach utilizes techniques such as myofascial release, relaxation techniques and strain counterstrain manipulation.
Kim’s areas of expertise include prevention and wellness, pelvic pain, low back pain, pain with intercourse, incontinence, abdominal adhesions, and prenatal/postpartum. Her goal is to empower patients to take their rehabilitation into their own hands as they discover their personal path to wellness. When away from the office, Kim enjoys spending time with her two young boys, husband, and running out on the trails with friends.
If you live in the Phoenix metro area and you are experiencing any of these symptoms or have questions about pelvic floor dysfunction, contact Kim Bryant at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit her website www.kimbryantpt.com