It is far more poignant to share a conversation with a doctor relayed to me by a patient. You’ll start getting an idea of why I do what I do, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll get a wee bit fired up.
The woman in question came to see me for pelvic floor physical therapy six months after gynecological surgery with complaints of unresolved frequent urination, problems with bowel movements, and problems with sexual function.Twenty+ years before this surgery, she first became a mother and over a number of years had five vaginal deliveries. Three years before this surgery she asked her gynecologist what treatment options were available for bladder and bowel symptoms that had been getting progressively worse for a number of years, a step she describes as something she “had to work up the courage to do.” Her doctor’s response to her? “Yeah, you and 53 million other women. I mean – you did have five children.”
The fact that pregnancy and childbirth are the greatest risk factors for women developing pelvic floor dysfunction have sadly and wrongly also led to the practice of doing nothing in the name of prevention. That a woman who has had children will then have urine leakage, pelvic organ prolapse, or some other issue with her pelvic health is accepted as a foregone conclusion. Women are led to believe that due to how common these problems are, that they are normal. Many healthcare providers, such as the physician I mention (and both male and female) perpetuate this myth. Rather than accept it as Motherhood’s price of admission, I put it out there as a call to action. None of us would be on this earth without the women who carried and birthed us.
We owe it to her, to ourselves, and all women to speak up about the sensitive physical issues that affect us. There are options for treatment, so bottom line is, don’t allow it to be laughed off. You deserve a better quality of life.