The Connection Between Emotions and Pelvic Pain

By Lorraine Faehndrich

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.
  • Smile.
  • 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?

Umm. Wrong.

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!

 

 

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10 Comments

  1. Seb

    Hi Lorraine,

    I came across this when searching for pelvic issues due to emotional stress.
    I am a man in my early 40’s and for a few years now, I have experienced occasional pelvic pain but mainly overactive bladder and urinary frequency which can totally disrupt my life. I’ve had a lot of tests which are unremarkable. I’ve always been an anxious person and I’ve noticed when I’m worrying or when I’m angry I hold a lot of tension in my abdomen and notice that I ‘suck it in’ almost like holding my breath.
    I’m pretty certain that this is contributing to tense muscles and also the bladder symptoms. Would you agree?
    I find that when I’m very happy and relaxed, my symptoms are alleviated.

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Hi Seb, Yes. Definitely, I agree. The tension you notice is a protective pattern. It’s a way the body suppresses emotional energy. The key is retraining your brain that your emotional energy is safe. When your brain re-learns that your emotional energy is safe, it won’t need to tense up against it anymore…or distract from them with symptoms. All the best, Lorraine

      Reply
  2. Rachel

    Hi Lorraine, I too have been suffering with pelvic pain for 6 weeks now. It started 2 weeks after a miscarriage. I’ve had swabs, urine tests and ultrasounds which have all come back normal. I’ve been extremely stressed and anxious about the pain I can’t seem to get it off my mind and almost always thinking it is something sinister. Do you think the pain could be a result of the stress and anxiety?

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Hi Rachael,

      Yes. The pain can be caused or perpetuated by stress and suppressed emotions and the way they impact the brain and nervous system. There is lots of information on my website to explore and I would recommend reading more to see if it resonates with you. I also share free resources in my newsletter which you can sign up for here: https://radiantlifedesign.com/newsletter-sign-up/ Whatever else you do, I would definitely recommend implementing a mind body approach. Re-training that worry and obsessing about the pain (which is completely understandable) is an important key to calming your nervous system, creating safety, and relieving the pain. Let me know if you have other questions. You can contact me privately here: https://radiantlifedesign.com/contact/

      Warmly,
      Lorraine

      Reply
  3. Huey St Claire

    Thank you for this i have adenomyosis and this gave me so much insight. Much love and gratitude

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      I’m so glad. You’re welcome!

      Reply
  4. Yvonne

    This is so me. I’ve been noticing this pelvic pain when I’m crying or extremely stressed. I thought I would google to see if there was a connection. This information gives me some insight on what is happening and changes that need to take place. It’s not going to be easy, but life is too short to be on this roller coaster of emotions with my husband. He needs help, but doesn’t think he has a problem. I pray he wakes up before it’s too late.

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Hi Yvonne, I’m glad to hear this has given you some insight.

      Sending love,
      Lorraine

      Reply
  5. Susan

    It gave me so much Hope!!!! I have pelvic pain for three years and couldnt find medical reason! I have very toxic relationship with my mother and every day for years we argue and then i can feel my muscles to tighten. Due to it, I have problems with painful sex, painful periods, bladdef infections. I was sure it is something uncurable but you gave me hope that maybe it will go away one day if i keep working on it 🙏🙏🙏

    Reply
    • Lorraine

      Hi Susan,

      I’m so happy to hear this has given you hope! It is powerful to notice this connection, and the first step to deeper lasting healing and relief. Yay! Yes keep going. There are many resources here to help you.

      Warmly,
      Lorraine

      Reply

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