President and Chief Clinical Officer of Intimate Rose, Dr. Amanda Olson, DPT, PRPC, gives us the 411 on why we need to be mindful of pelvic pain.

When our bodies hurt, it is usually because it is trying to make us aware of something. From headaches to back pain, we receive a myriad of signals which we have to decode (with the help of a medical professional when needed).

For women, pelvic pains can stem from any number of things, which is why it is always important to check with your gynecologist when you start sensing things wander into the land of the unusual.

But, what exactly does "unusual" look like? It can manifest in several ways all of which result in a painful experience. People Chica wanted to get to the bottom of what can cause something like pelvic pain.

We asked the president and chief clinical officer of Intimate Rose, Dr. Amanda Olson, DPT, PRPC, what are some things women should look out for when it comes to experiencing pelvic pain and how we can remedy the symptoms.

Amanda Olson, DPT, PRPC, and president and chief clinical officer of Intimate Rose
Credit: Amanda Olson / Intimate Rose

It's a good philosophy for women to pay attention to their body and what it needs. Why should women be mindful of pelvic pain? 

Pelvic pain is your body's way of telling you that something needs your attention. It is important to first see your gynecologist for evaluation and possible testing to determine if a serious medical condition is present.

Then it is important to request an evaluation by a pelvic floor physical therapist who will evaluate the pelvic floor muscles [and] surrounding joints in the hip and spine, and work with you to alleviate the pain. 

What exactly is the cause of pelvic pain and how does it manifest in women?  

There can be many causes of pelvic pain in women, and often when a woman experiences pelvic pain the driver is multiple factors. It can be caused by certain diseases or infections and this is why it is important to first visit a gynecologist.

It can also be caused by pelvic floor muscle dysfunction (PFD). Often the pelvic floor muscles are short or too tight, or poorly coordinated which can result in pain.

It can manifest as constipation, a feeling of pressure or pain that is deep in the pelvis, vagina, bladder, or rectum, pain with tampon use, pain with intimacy, or pain or difficulty with pap smears. It can also be associated with low back and hip pain. 

Woman with menstrual pain
Credit: Getty Images / dragana991

Can things like stress, UTIs and yeast infections cause more severe pelvic pain?

High levels of stress can cause tension in the pelvic floor muscles as a reflexive guarding behavior very similar to jaw clenching and teeth grinding. This in turn can result in constipation and difficulty emptying the bowels.

Tip: try to notice if you are clenching your glute muscles (the muscles in your bottom) and or the pelvic floor. If you are, take a few slow breaths and unclench the muscles.

Pelvic physical therapy and the aid of tools such as a pelvic wand are helpful for managing chronic pelvic floor tension associated with constipation. UTIs and yeast infections can result in pain in the bladder, vulva (outer part of the genitals), and pain with urination. 

How can you ease pelvic pain? Is there a cure for it? 

It is important to see a pelvic physical therapist to determine what is causing your pain and to receive one on one advisory and care. Part of [the] treatment will be to retrain the muscles [on] how to relax and have better coordination.

Additionally often it is recommended to use the Intimate Rose pelvic wand to relieve pelvic pain. The pelvic wand can be used the same way a cane is used to relieve tension in the neck or back. It is curved to allow for tender point relief and myofascial release of the pelvic floor muscles. It is discrete and can be taken on trips or used at home as part of a self-care regime.

For pain with intimacy or tampon use, vaginal dilators are often indicated. These are medical tools that come in a cylinder shape of a variety of sizes and progressively help to mobilize and reduce pain with penetration. A guide to Intimate Rose medical grade silicone dilators can be found here.

A young woman experiencing pelvic discomfort, she is grimacing in pain.
Credit: Getty Images / Fertnig

Are there any unique exercises/stretches for specific conditions (i.e. Post-partum, incontinence, etc.)?

For pain, body position changes help to provide healthy circulation to the pelvis, abdomen, low back, and limbs. If you find yourself in one position for longer than 30 minutes (sitting at your desk, sitting on an airplane, standing in line, etc.), introduce some gentle stretches.

A few easy ones that can be done in public, at the office, or at home include holding on to something and swinging your leg back and forth, or dropping into a squat for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to stretch the hips. The specific exercises for pelvic pain and to help relax your PFM can be found in my guide here.

For Incontinence, kegels may be indicated if the pelvic floor muscles are determined to be weak. This treatment is different from pelvic pain conditions. Here is a guide to kegels.