Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed or struggling with vulvar pain, painful sex, or other chronic pelvic pain for years, in my experience there are 4 critical keys to finding lasting relief.
Women who implement these strategies relieve their pain much more quickly and easily, and don’t get trapped in the never-ending search for specialists and treatments that so many women with pelvic pain face.
These keys are guiding principles that form the basis of my work with pelvic pain.
It’s what I’ve learned through my personal experience healing vulvar pain, as well as through my coaching work helping women relieve all kinds of chronic pelvic pain.
These keys also serve as the foundation of The Healing Female Pain Program.
1. Break free from Obsessive Negative Thinking and Worrying about your symptoms (and other damaging patterns of thought).
Obsessive negative thinking and worrying (while completely understandable when you’re suffering with vulvar pain or other chronic pelvic pain), triggers the stress response in your body.
This nervous system response is meant to be a temporary emergency response to real and present dangers in your environment. It prepares your body to run or fight by releasing stress hormones that increase muscle tension, send blood AWAY from your core (including your urinary digestive, and reproductive tracts), and increase heart rate and blood pressure.
All this is adaptive when it’s temporary, but when you’re worrying about your symptoms or your future, beating yourself up, putting a lot of pressure on yourself, obsessing about treatments or diet or work… all day long, it’s really hard on the body!
Regularly being in a stress response leads to chronically tensed muscles (in your pelvic floor and elsewhere), decreased circulation of oxygen and nutrients to your nerves, tissues, and organs, and an over-stimulated (or sensitized) nervous system.
All this contributes to pain (or creates it) and prevents your body from healing.
I know it feels impossible to change this thinking, especially when there are real things to worry about. I have been there! But I promise you it is possible. It is actually very doable when you have the right tools and strategies to work with.
2. Learn how to feel and process your emotions in healthy ways.
We live in a culture that teaches us how to suppress our emotions from day one. Families, schools, religions, our medical system, the workplace…you name it. They are all set up in ways that reward us for suppressing emotion…or punish and shame us for showing emotion.
As a result we learn unhealthy strategies for dealing with our emotions. For instance, we unconsciously tense and contract muscles and hold our breath to stop emotional energy from moving in our body. On top of that we keep ourselves distracted with activities like obsessing over our To Do lists, binge watching Netflix, surfing the internet, and overeating – all to help us avoid being present with emotions in our body.
Unfortunately all the ways we suppress emotion, consciously and unconsciously, are hard on the body! They lead to chronic tension and contraction, an over stimulated nervous system, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.
It’s nearly impossible to relax contracted muscles that are contracting 24/7 to suppress emotion!
Learning how to process your emotions in healthy ways, allows your body to relax. You’ll notice you can take a full, deep breath, relax muscles that have previously felt impossible to relax (or like steel as some of my clients describe). This not only relieves pain, anxiety and fatigue (holding back emotional energy is exhausting), but also gives you access to your intuition and body’s wisdom.
3. Trust Yourself and Trust Your Body
“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” ~ C.S. Lewis
As a soul with a body, you have a lot more wisdom available to you than you are aware of. Your body and soul constantly give you guidance about what is right for you. No one else outside of you has access to that information. You know your truth.
It’s important to learn how to understand and trust this information in all aspects of your life, but especially when it comes to healing your body.
When you learn how to understand what your body is communicating and trust it, you will be able to lead your treatment and make difficult decisions with confidence. This is particularly important when it comes to pelvic pain or other health issues that leave you navigating a sea of potential treatments, and wide range of skill, training and experience among providers.
I have had so many clients who ignored what felt right to them and regretted it later. Don’t let that happen to you. Don’t over ride yourself. Learn how to trust and honor yourself and the wisdom your body is giving you now.
4. Make yourself and your healing a priority
You cannot give from an empty well, and at the same time relieve pain. Period.
But, I know that if you’re in chronic pain you may already have lots of thoughts and guilt about not doing enough – not working enough, not giving enough, not participating enough.
Many of the women I work with need to learn how to let go of patterns of over doing, and taking care of everyone else except themselves in order to relieve their pain. These patterns not only perpetuate pain, in many cases they caused it in the first place. There is no possible way to push yourself physically and emotionally, meeting everyone else’s needs except your own, and relieve pain. You can’t ignore yourself and your body for an extended period of time without physical consequences.
And you certainly can’t do that and heal a body that’s already in pain!
This as an opportunity to learn what true self-care is. Have you heard of the oxygen mask rule? In the event of an emergency, when the oxygen masks come down, mom gets oxygen first. Why? If she doesn’t nobody makes it
This is not selfish it is survival. You can’t take good care of anyone else if you’re not taking good care of you.
You will have so much more time for everyone else, when you feel better. Right now, you deserve the time you need heal.
Bottom line: If you want to find lasting relief from chronic pelvic pain, you need a different approach. One that includes looking at your thoughts and emotions, your past experiences, and how you’re treating yourself on a regular basis – and ultimately teaches you how to make the changes in yourself and in your life that will relieve tension, calm down your nervous system, increase blood flow, and relieve your pain.
If you’d like more support, The Healing Female Pain Program, walks you step by step through the process of relieving chronic pelvic and sexual pain using a mind body approach.