In my experience, both personally and professionally, emotions are almost always at the root of pelvic pain. Understanding the connection between emotions and pelvic pain is an important step to healing.
If they are not entirely responsible for the symptoms, they are contributing to them, or making it impossible to relieve them! And just to be clear, that does not mean pelvic pain is in any way your fault. It’s not, and you’re not doing anything wrong.
Here’s the deal.
We live in a culture that encourages us to suppress our emotions from day one. Our families, schools, religions…you name it. They are all set up to punish our expression of emotion and reward suppression.
And this is particularly true for women.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
- Don’t be so difficult.
- You’re too emotional.
- She’s such a bitch.
- Why can’t you just be happy?
We’ve all experienced this in one way or another, as children or adults. If we aren’t directly shamed or punished for expressing emotions, we’ve certainly been rewarded for not showing them.
After all, little girls are supposed to be “sugar and spice and everything nice,” right?
The truth is that we have emotions and we have them for good reasons, but our brains learn early on that it’s a lot safer for us if we don’t feel them.
As a result, we learn unhealthy strategies of dealing with our emotions. For instance, we unconsciously tense and contract the deeper muscles in our body, and we hold our breath so we can’t feel emotional energy. Or we keep ourselves distracted with activities like spending hours on the internet, binge watching our favorite shows, overeating, and massive To Do lists – all to help us avoid being present with emotional sensations in our body.
There are lots of problems with this, but the main one is that it’s impossible to relax muscles that are contracting 24/7 to protect you from feeling your emotions.
Depending on where the muscles that you’re contracting are, you can end up with….migraines and headaches, back or neck pain, hip or knee pain, or pelvic pain, including vulvar pain and burning.
If you’re suffering with pelvic pain, or you’ve been diagnosed with pelvic floor dysfunction, it’s very likely that one of the ways you’re unconsciously suppressing emotions is with chronic contraction of the muscles in your pelvic floor.
Chronically contracted pelvic floor muscles cut off circulation of blood, nutrients, and oxygen to the skin and nerves in the pelvis. This can not only lead to pain, burning, or inflammation, but also issues with sexual desire, arousal and orgasm. It can also contribute to chronic yeast or bladder infections, issues with elimination and urination, and difficulty during birth.
When your pelvic floor muscles are chronically contracted to suppress emotional energy, no amount of stretching, massage, visualization, physical therapy, medication, or other treatments will permanently relax them. To do that you’ve got to learn how to welcome emotions in your body…so the muscles don’t tense up in the first place.
Are your emotions impacting your symptoms?
One way to determine if there is a connection between the way you’re processing emotions and your pelvic pain symptoms, is to start noticing what happens to your pelvic floor muscles when you feel stressed, anxious, angry or afraid.
If your pelvic floor muscles tense when you’re in a stressful situation – or when you feel overwhelmed, angry, sad, or fearful – it’s a good indication that the way you’re unconsciously processing emotion is impacting your pelvic floor and contributing to your symptoms.
Or, if you can’t tell if your pelvic floor muscles are contracting or not, because you can’t feel them, that’s also an indication that there may be an emotional root to your pain.
If your emotions are impacting your pelvic floor, lasting relief will only come when you learn new ways of welcoming and processing your emotions.
You need to re-train your brain that your emotions are safe to feel.
The good news is that that is very doable.
Start by paying closer attention to your body.
Which of your muscles regularly feel tense? Which ones feel relaxed? What happens in your body, and your pelvic floor when you are under stress – emotional or otherwise?
In honor of pelvic pain awareness month, I invite you to begin becoming more aware of yourself and your emotions. It’s completely non-invasive and the side-effects are all positive!
Reclaiming your emotions will not only allow you to relieve pelvic pain, it will impact your life in many other wonderful ways!
If you’d like guidance and support welcoming your emotions and re-training your brain, I’ll be going in depth into those topics in the Healing Female Pain program. Our next session begins soon!