Recognizing Pelvic Pain Awareness Month

In Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy, Pelvic Health, Pelvic Pain by Stephanie Prendergast

By PHRC TEAM

May is recognized worldwide as Pelvic Pain Awareness Month, an observance that aims to raise awareness about pelvic pain and encourage education, research, and advocacy. Despite the prevalence of this condition, it often remains underdiagnosed and undertreated due to lack of awareness and understanding. The entire team at the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center is committed first and foremost to using evidence-based evaluation and treatments. Beyond our desire to help our patients we help the community in other ways.

 

Did You Know?

  • Less than 60% of OBGYNs feel comfortable diagnosing and treating vulvodynia? Most do not receive ANY specialized training in medical school regarding sexual health and pain (1).
  • Urologists do not receive training about pelvic pain in medical school. 
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy is first line treatment for people with pelvic pain and those of us at PHRC will continue to improve awareness and training for those who are interested!

 

Awareness and Education

We understand all too well the barrier people face trying to get help for their symptoms. We promise, it is getting better but we have a long way to go so here is what we are doing this year to help. We actively engage in education via community outreach, educational workshops, and seminars for patients and providers. PHRC cofounder Elizabeth Akincilar is co-director of an organization, the Jackson Clinics Foundation,  bringing formalized pelvic floor physical therapy education to Kenya! Many members of the PHRC clinical team donated their time to help develop the curricula and to travel to teach the students. PHRC cofounder Stephanie Prendergast and PHRC director of education Jandra Mueller teach via the International Pelvic Pain Society and The International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health.

Over the next 2 years students will experience a robust online curriculum and 6 in person segments with expert teachers from the US. But the goal is to have this program independently run by Kenyans. Please visit their GoFundMe directly for more information about the program and/or donating. This gofundme will raise money to support our volunteer TAs and also go to purchase a few teaching supplies (books, models) that we would like to provide to the students to enhance their learning.

 

Understanding Pelvic Pain

A number of diagnoses are associated with the general term ‘pelvic pain’ but here are the most common:

  • Vulvodynia/Vestibulodynia/Vaginismus
  • Interstitial Cystitis/Painful bladder syndrome (IC/PBS)
  • CPPS/Non-bacterial Chronic Prostatitis (CP/CPPS)
  • Pudendal Neuralgia
  • Endometriosis
  • Lichen Sclerosus and Planus
  • PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
  • Pelvic Venous Disorders (PeVD)

While all of the diagnoses have different etiologic factors, most patients with these diagnoses have pelvic floor dysfunction and this dysfunction contributes to their pain or symptoms.  The good news is that pelvic pain is treatable! Pelvic floor physical therapy is recommended as the first-line treatment (Torosis, et. al, 2024). 

 

PHRC and Pelvic Pain Awareness Month

 

In honor of pelvic pain awareness month this year, the Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center hosted a fundraiser for two important nonprofit organizations: Tight Lipped, a grassroots patient-led advocacy group raising awareness to medical providers about the importance of pelvic pain; and Riley Hooper, a documentarian film-maker who is raising awareness about a specific condition called ‘neuroproliferative Vestibulodynia’ with her film, Vestibule, sharing her story. We also published our first e-book Vulvodynia, Vestibulodynia and Vaginismus!! All registrants received  a copy of our book which is full of resources. Vulvar experts Drs. Jill Krapf, Rachel Rubin, and Sarah Cigna joined for a Q&A, all proceeds go to Tight Lipped and Vestibule. If you are interested in donating please visit: Tight Lipped Donations, Vestibule Donations.

In addition to fundraising and volunteer work we also help commercial and academic institutions recruit for their projects. Check out a cool project regarding the effects of surfing on pelvic pain, led by Jason Kutch, PhD at USC!  

 

Research Opportunity

 


Overall Aims for this project: “In this project, we will use a randomized controlled trial to test the hypothesis that repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) directed at a cortical site that controls pelvic floor muscles can reduce pain, and improve brain and muscle activity in women with IC/BPS.” (USC 2024).

Do you experience unwanted and/or persistent feelings of genital arousal (Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder/Genito-Pelvic Dysesthesia)? You might be eligible to participate in the Sexual Health Implications of PGAD Study (SHIPS)! To participate, or to find out more, please contact us directly at [email protected].

The Goal: To learn about the role of the group in pelvic pain patients’ experience of their condition, treatment, and social identities. Interested in participating? Please contact [email protected]. This research has been approved by the NYU Institutional Review Board (IRB-FY2024-8482).

 

At PHRC, we  will continue to do all we can to help, not just in May but all year. If you have a project you need help with or want to suggest more avenues for us to help out please share your comments! Thank you for reading and we hope this post inspired you to help out too!

 

Our Educational Resources for Pelvic Pain

 

Additional resources  we recommend

 

Just a few podcasts of so many…

 

References:

  1. Karpel, H. C., MS. (2024, May 29). Are Ob-Gyns Comfortable Discussing Sexual Trauma With Patients? Contemporary OB/GYN. Retrieved from https://www.contemporaryobgyn.net/view/are-ob-gyns-comfortable-discussing-sexual-trauma-with-patients-
  2. Torosis, M., Carey, E., Christensen, K., Kaufman, M. R., Kenton, K., Kotarinos, R., Lai, H. H., Lee, U., Lowder, J. L., Meister, M., Spitznagle, T., Wright, K., & Ackerman, A. L. (2024). A Treatment Algorithm for High-Tone Pelvic Floor Dysfunction. Obstet Gynecol, 143(4), 595-602. https://doi.org/10.1097/AOG.0000000000005536
  3. University of Southern California. (2024). Projects. USC Ampl. Retrieved May 29, 2024, from https://sites.usc.edu/ampl/projects/

 

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Are you unable to come see us in person in the Bay Area, Southern California or New England?  We offer virtual physical therapy appointments too!

Virtual sessions are available with PHRC pelvic floor physical therapists via our video platform, Zoom, or via phone. For more information and to schedule, please visit our digital healthcare page.

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