Prior to launching the first Share MayFlowers campaign to spread pelvic and perinatal health awareness in May 2012 we thought long and hard about what components really needed to be highlighted throughout the month. We identified what areas of information are most important to women as they battle, treat or try to prevent various pelvic health issues. One of the primary threads through each of these is mental health. And not just because mental health almost inevitably creeps in when dealing with tough medical problems, but also partly because of the toll it takes when trusted care providers tell you what you’re experiencing is to be expected, and generally not that big a deal. But whatever the feelings attached to pelvic health dysfunction or sexual dysfunction, all of it–the physical and the psychological–certainly warrants being taken seriously by all involved. Based on areas we covered, here are two areas (and important ways) that mental health is very much tied to pelvic health:
Sexual Dysfunction (This can include recurrent painful sex, changes in desire and/or arousal, sensation or lubrication.)
In a female sexual experience, there are multiple factors that can either enhance or inhibit the physical and emotional response. These can include the emotional connection with a partner; any concerns for safety during a sexual experience (which can include physical safety, but also encompasses concern for sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy); the timing and location of the sexual experience; your individual self-image and emotional health; any prior sexual experiences and expectations for your current sexual relationship; as well as any medication use which may affect sexual response and mental health and well-being.
All of these factors play a significant role in your body’s physical response, but are also significant in determining overall satisfaction associated with a sexual experience. In other words, the physical response alone cannot be the sole diagnostic tool and other areas need to be considered to determine the root cause of sexual dysfunction. More info on this and sexual dysfunction here.
Bladder & Bowel Health
Only 1 in every 12 people that suffer from incontinence seek treatment and studies have shown that women who have bladder dysfunction report a lower quality of life and decreased feelings of self worth. This combination of facts certainly underscores the importance of addressing mental health, at least initially. Furthermore, if you have find that you have bowel symptoms, due to the under the carpet nature of talking about such topics, you may also want to incorporate mental health into care plan.