I started going to my gynecologist at 16 years old, shortly after I started having sex. I felt like it was important to me to take control of my physical anatomy, and regular pap smears and checkups made me feel more comfortable. I never had any problem with vaginal intercourse, vaginal stimulation, or even my physical internal examination with a speculum. So, at age 19, when my gynecologist felt something off and recommended pelvic floor physical therapy, I was so confused. I had never felt pain during sex, had no issues with inserting tampons, vaginal or anal sex. But, I trusted her, so I booked an appointment with a pelvic floor specialist. If you’re about to try pelvic floor physical therapy, my experience can help you to learn more and be prepared for what to expect.
My First Appointment
I walked in feeling apprehensive and didn’t know what to expect. I had my period and had a tampon in, so I assumed we would just be discussing what would be happening in future sessions. Wrong. She had me remove my pants and thong and lie on the table with a large napkin underneath me and a cotton sheet covering me from the waist down. She returned after I undressed, and put one glove on. She lubed her hand up, and inserted it inside me – tampon still in and everything. And all of a sudden, I felt it. Sheer pain that brought tears to my eyes that was something I had never felt before. Intense vaginal pain that made me scoot backward and shut my legs. I realized it was going to be a long road ahead of us.
How Didn’t I Know?
As I said, I had regularly been having intercourse for years, problem free. What I didn’t know is that the pelvic floor is more than just your vagina. It’s composed of muscles that surround the vagina, uterus, rectum, and bladder. So sometimes normal vaginal intercourse does not cause pain, but there could still be a pelvic floor issue.
I only felt pain when she bent her fingers inside me and pushed to the sides and base of the walls of my vagina (near my rectum and out towards my thighs). It hurt like nothing I’d ever felt before. I had no idea this was a problem for me because these parts of my pelvic floor were never stimulated through intercourse. My partners were not digging their fingers around and prodding every wall of my vagina. So, I had no idea there was a problem. But when she even applied light pressure it would cause me to start wincing.
Pelvic floor problems can be caused by a multitude of things, such as muscle problems, uterine issues, or sexual trauma. My problem was due to my anxiety. My severe anxiety caused my body and muscles to tense up, and that meant internally my muscles would tense up too. Unknowingly, every time I got anxious I would tense up my pelvic floor, tightening these muscles to the point of extreme pain. But, since I had never poked around in there like this before, I had no idea.
There are multiple ways to have pelvic floor therapy, including physical therapy like specialized stretching, but also internal physical therapy. This is kind of like glove on, lubed up, poking and exploring your vaginal walls therapy. It’s important to make sure you’re completely comfortable with your physical therapist or else you’ll remain clenched and that can make the problem much worse.
I had the hardest time with releasing my pelvic floor because it’s incredibly awkward trying to feel totally comfortable with a gloved hand inside your vagina wiggling around.
You get these things called vaginal dilators, or as I call them, lame dildos. They come in all different sizes. You start with the smallest dilator, cover it in lube, and push it in as far as it’ll comfortably go. From there, you tense up your pelvic floor for a few seconds and slowly release it. Once you can comfortably do that multiple times, you move up to the next size. For me, I moved up sizes each week. You use these dilators in the privacy of your own home and during physical therapy sessions.
Internal Physical Therapy
The most painful part of treatment for me was definitely the internal physical therapy. Have you ever gotten a deep tissue massage? Imagine that but inside your vagina. The pain sucks, and sometimes you’ll leave so sore it hurts to sit and drive home. But it is so worth it after stretching those muscles out. You’ll notice less pain when you urinate, more pleasure during sex, and less discomfort on your period.
My Experience Overall
To be honest, I hated my physical therapist at first. Nothing to do with her as a person, but how wildly uncomfortable I felt allowing a doctor to probe inside me and make me sore in my vagina made me dread going to her office once a week. After the first few appointments when things started hurting less, I was able to relax, and talk to her. With each week I became more comfortable with her, more open about my sex life, and more relaxed. This allowed the therapy to work really well because I trusted her and was able to work on my muscles with her around.
After going through a few months of physical therapy my relationship with my vagina improved. I’m now able to feel when something is tense or too tight, and I can work on it myself without having to return to the doctors. I still have my dilators for if I feel like I need to use them, but so far I’ve had a year free of pelvic floor problems.
I learned a lot about my anatomy through this experience, and I respect my vagina a lot more now. This taught me that if something feels uncomfortable during sex, it’s important to say it because it can cause severe damage. After exploring my vagina so intimately, I now know what my muscles can and can’t handle, which has made my sex life so much better – and healthier.
Yeah, it’s awkward, and it’s not the most comfortable experience of your life. But pelvic floor physical therapy has changed the way I feel about my vagina and my sex life. Our bodies are fragile and intricate, and we need to treat them accordingly. If you have any hesitation about getting pelvic floor physical therapy, don’t. It’s life changing and I recommend it to anyone who has regular sex, regardless of any pain or discomfort. It’s a great way to learn your vaginal and anal limits. Make sure you find a doctor you’re comfortable with and take a deep breath – it’s going to get awkward but it’ll be worth it.