By Guest Blogger: Liz Palmer
For those of us who suffer from pelvic pain, it can be an impossibly frustrating journey.
First, it can take years to seek help. Let’s be honest, it’s incredibly awkward to tell your doctor that your vagina hurts so bad you cry during sex, or that you can’t maintain an erection because of the searing pain that radiates through your penis whenever you’re aroused. It can take years to realize you have a problem. Perhaps you’ve thought: “It’s completely normal to take four minutes to pee.” I remember being shocked to learn it wasn’t. Then you visit the doctor and there isn’t really anything they can do. They give you a bewildered look and hand you a prescription for narcotics. So you take them because there doesn’t seem to be another option. Then you are sleepy all the time, out of it, and constipated.
Don’t despair. There is hope. Pelvic floor physical therapists are godsends. They nod empathetically and listen to you cry over failed romantic encounters and your inability to sit in a chair without tearing up. They can treat you without heavy drugs, which sounds like a fairy tale to someone who has been told over and over that narcotics will be your only respite from the tight, rope-like bands that are the muscles of your pelvic floor. Their treatments work, and you feel better. But what do you do while you’re going through the treatment process?
Sure, you’ll start to feel better a few weeks or months (sometimes years) down the road, but what about in the meantime?
Hypnotherapy can fill in that gap.
I first became introduced to hypnotherapy during my years as a full time birth doula (labor support professional). Attending births were magical. Witnessing another human being emerge into the world is one of the most amazing experiences we can have as humans.
But talk about pelvic pain! I watched mothers scream their babies out, convinced they would break in half from the sheer pain of it all. Until the day I saw a woman doing hypnosis during her birth.
Her eyes were closed, her lips quickly moved in a soundless monologue and her whole body was relaxed as she squatted and her baby slid out. No screaming, no vaginal tearing and most surprising of all, very little pain. She did the whole thing completely drug-free.
Later, as she happily held her warm bundle of a newborn-baby, she explained that she had seen a hypnotherapist several times during her pregnancy. The therapist had her visualize her pelvic floor muscles as putty, opening layer by layer softly and easily. She had practiced this full-body/pelvic-floor relaxation for months before her birth, like an Olympic athlete preparing for the big race and needless to say, she won the gold. She astonished not only me but also all the doctors and nurses in the room. We had never seen anything like it.
As someone who suffers from pelvic floor dysfunction, I realized that hypnotherapy could help me as well. I wasn’t even trying to pass an eight-pound human through my pelvic floor; my goal was simply to get a tampon in without tearing up. Since this was well before I did my schooling to become a certified hypnotherapist, I had no idea what hypnotherapy was.
Hypnotherapy is a gentle and effective method of changing deeply rooted habits, thought patterns and behaviors. Through relaxation, the therapist is able to insert positive messages into the client’s subconscious. Hypnotherapy uses guided relaxation and focused attention to reach a heightened state of awareness. While in this state of intense concentration, a person – with the help of a trained therapist – can focus their attention on specific thoughts and tasks. Most people say it feels like being in a deeply relaxed “zone.” They report coming out of hypnosis feeling wonderful and energized. Hypnosis is a way to tune in to your subconscious mind. It feels very similar to the state you would feel as you are falling asleep.
In hypnosis, we are able to bypass the “critical mind” which is the filter between the conscious and subconscious brain. By moving aside the critical mind, we open a door to the mind-body connection. We use the power of the mind to control how our muscles function. Because pelvic floor dysfunction is often a severe tightening of the muscles, we release that tightness with powerful suggestions from the brain. We literally change our neurology using relaxation as our guiding tool.
After my first hypnosis session, I was floored. I literally felt no discomfort. I didn’t have to take my narcotics that day, and that thrilled me beyond words. The pain came back the next morning but I now knew that I had a powerful tool. I continued with hypnotherapy for the next few months, and actually got off of taking narcotics daily. It was then that I decided to become a hypnotherapist myself. Hypnotherapy combined with pelvic floor physical therapy has completely changed my life and the life of my clients suffering from debilitating pain.
For more information about hypnotherapy and pelvic pain click here.
Liz Palmer, C.H.t., M.A., is a professional hypnotherapist in Los Angeles and has trained extensively in several areas of clinical hypnotherapy. She first discovered the power of hypnosis as a Certified Birth Doula, helping dozens of women give birth naturally and comfortably due to their study of hypnosis during pregnancy. After using hypnotherapy to successfully treat her own chronic pain, she went on to become a certified hypnotherapist. She specializes in several areas of hypnotherapy and has an advanced diploma in treating chronic pain. She sees clients in her Santa Monica office or via webcam anywhere in the world. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org