Pelvic Pain in the News

In Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy by Stephanie Prendergast and Elizabeth Rummer1 Comment

Every couple of months, we plan to bring you a roundup of the coverage of pelvic pain in the news.

Today’s post, our first roundup, contains a slew of interesting topics from the need for a greater understanding of the clitoris/brain connection to surprising news about male pelvic pain and IC to research-backed advice on pelvic floor-friendly bike riding.


Understanding Clitoris-Brain Link could Help with Pain

Shockingly, in the age of modern medicine, we know very little about the clitoris, especially how it communicates with the brain. Why is this important? Because having this understanding could offer a key to unlocking the mysteries of chronic pelvic floor and sexual pain.

So writes Dr. Anne Fausto-Sterling, Brown University biology professor, in an article published on the Huffington Post on June 21, 2012.

Dr. Fausto-Sterling writes that it’s important that we remedy this lack of knowledge, not only for our understanding of female sexual function, but also for medical reasons. Two critical questions that this knowledge could help answer are: “What causes vaginal pain? And what are the long-term effects of genital surgery be it for rare cancers or genital cutting?”

Dr. Fausto-Sterling says that when she refers to “genital cutting,” she isn’t only talking about the genital mutilation that occurs in some Middle Eastern and North African countries. She’s also talking about any surgery done to the area, like the cosmetic surgery that’s done in the West and surgeries done on those with sexual development disorders.

The doctor goes on to describe the small bit of info that is understood about the clitoris and it’s link to the brain, such as the fact that it’s likely a connection that “will change over the life cycle and with experiences,” such as vaginal or clitoral surgery.

Click here to read this fascinating article in its entirety!


Study: Pelvic Pain and IC in Men Underdiagnosed

Chronic Pelvic Pain and IC in men are likely more common than was assumed.

So says an article in Family Practice News, which was published on June 13, 2012, and written by Michele Sullivan.

About 2 million men in the U.S. may suffer from either of the disorders, according to a national telephone survey, Sullivan writes.

The survey, which was spearheaded by Dr. Anne Suskind, a fellow at the University of Michigan, was similar to the RAND IC Epidemiology Study survey of women that was conducted about six years ago. That study, the largest IC epidemiology study ever undertaken, showed that up to 6.5% of U.S. women may have IC, writes Sullivan.

To read the entire article, click here.



Why does my Bike Seat hurt my Vagina?

In the past, research on biking and sexual health was concerned with male erectile dysfunction, but today new research is shedding light on how bike seats effect the vagina.

So says an article by Deborah Dunham published on April 2, 2012 on

The typical bike seat is designed so that when you sit on it your body weight rests on the nose (the front portion closest to the handle bars) of the seat, writes Dunham. On such a seat, a woman basically ends up sitting on her vagina. As a result, nerves and blood vessels are compressed, which can cause “numbness, tingling, pain and a whole lot of discomfort.”

In a study recently published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, researchers show us why this happens and what we can do about it, the article says.

According to the study, it’s not the time on the bike that makes the biggest difference, but the way the handlebars are positioned, writes Dunham.

“Women on bikes with handlebars positioned lower than their seats experienced more pressure in the perineum, and they had decreased sensation in the pelvic floor,” the article says. “In general, the lower the handlebars in relation to the saddle, the more pain.”

That’s because “this position forces us to lean forward and put a greater percentage of our body weight on our vagina and surrounding area–something riders on a road bike or triathlon-style bike encounter more because of the flat back position they are in,” writes Dunham.

Therefore, the researchers of the study recommend a “no-nose seat,” which puts pressure on our sit bones, an area that is much better suited to handle it. In addition, “if we don’t put the weight on our sensitive parts and the nerves and blood vessels there, there’s likely to be no pain there,” says Dunham.

To read the complete article, just click here.


Research: PT Helps with Postpartum Depression

Studies show PT and exercise helps with postpartum depression, but unfortunately in the U.S. the practice is not catching on. That’s according to an article titled “Baby Blues,” written by Debra Wood, and published in on June 11, 2012.

In the U.S. PTs get very few patient referrals for postpartum depression (PPD), writes Wood. However, in other countries, such as Great Britain and Switzerland, PT is incorporated into postpartum recovery, she says.

According to the stats, between 11% and 18% of new moms have depressive symptoms. In the U.S. treatment includes medication and counseling, the article says.

In the U.S. new moms do sometimes get to PT for their PPD, albeit in a roundabout way.

Wood writes that new moms are referred to PT for urinary incontinence, sexual dysfunction, back pain or a variety of other musculoskeletal issues. (In fact, back and pelvic girdle pain increases the risk for PPD.) So new moms are referred to PT for these health issues, and the PT picks up on the PPD and adjusts their care plan accordingly.

What treatments might a PT use for PPD? The American Physical Therapy Association recommends PTs “encourage aerobic activity and teach relaxation techniques to help manage the symptoms,” according to the article.

“It’s been shown generally in the literature that exercise is beneficial for mood disorders, anxiety and depression,” says Marcy Crouch, the clinic director of the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center in Oakland, Calif., who was interviewed for the article. “In the postpartum population, it’s a huge piece of the well being of the mothers, and if they are at risk for baby blues or depression, exercise can help.”

If you’d like to read the article in its entirety, just click here.


App Helps IC Patients with Food Shopping, Eating Out

A new iPhone/iPad app is available for interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome (IC/BPS) patients to help them navigate food shopping and eating out at restaurants, according to a news release on

The app has a food database with more than 250 foods on the list. The foods are divided into three categories: “bladder friendly foods,’ “foods worth trying cautiously,” and “foods to avoid.” In addition, foods that can be soothing during IC “flares” are highlighted. Plus, the list also contains wine, bear, and spirits.

The app is available in the App Store for iPhones and iPads at a cost of 99 cents.

To read the release in its entirety, click here.


We hope you enjoyed this news roundup. Please let us know if you have come across any interesting articles in the past couple of months. If so, please share in the comment section!

Be Well,

Stephanie and Liz


  1. Me and a buddy hopped out of a car, walked back and forth over and over trying to find the place and then found an empty building with outlines where the letters for Urological Museum were. Looks like it’s closed.

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