Have you noticed how quickly pelvic floor issues are dismissed by the medical community?
The sole reason that The Tummy Team exists is that I (Kelly Dean, MPT, and founder) was completely dismissed by the medical community and I refused to give up my search for answers to why my body was falling apart. When the doctor or physical therapist dismisses or minimizes your valid symptoms, you start to dismiss them too. You are either forced to power through or find your own answers.
The more we do this work, the more shocked and amazed we are with some of the ridiculous advice our staff and our clients hear from doctors. Dismissing symptoms is one thing, but offering solutions that are in no way valid is another.
Here are our top 20 WORST pieces of pelvic floor advice we’ve heard. (Feel free to share yours in our comments!) These are real comments from OBGYN’s, primary care doctors, midwives, and pelvic floor physical therapists.
(1) “You just need to get pregnant and have a baby, that will stretch everything out.”
– Told to a 17-year-old dancer complaining of pelvic pain with her mother in the room
(2) “Have a glass of wine and relax. You are just tense.”
– Told to a mother 1 year postpartum when stating sex still does not feel good
(3) “They can do surgery and put some mesh in there. Mesh has gotten some bad press recently but I really think it is the wave of the future.”
– Told to a mother of three at her 6-month appointment when she said she felt like she might have a mild prolapse
(4) “Never have a vaginal birth! The body cannot handle it and there is really no point in ruining your pelvic floor.”
– When asking an OB what should you do to prevent pelvic floor issues
(5) “As a woman, it is completely normal to pee when running or jumping. As you get older you simply need to wear pads when you exercise.”
– Said by an MD when asking what kind of pelvic floor therapy might help her run and not wet her pants
(6) “For pain with sex… just take 2 Tylenol every time you have sex and maybe try to open your legs a little wider.”
– Advice offered by OBGYN to a woman complaining of pain with sex before she ever had babies
(7) “Don’t have any more babies.”
– When asked for remedies to help with diastasis recti and stress incontinence
(8) Following a 3rd degree tear in childbirth: “You will probably be hurting for about a year or so.”
– Said by a midwife with no other interventions offered
(9) “Just wear a tampon, your muscles will build up just trying to hold the tampon in.”
– When asked how to heal her pelvic floor after a vaginal birth
(10) “If you are not doing at least 100 Kegels a day, how can you actually expect for it to get better?”
– When asking for help with their stress incontinence
(11) “Please do not do your own research. *eye roll* You read too much.”
– After asking if there could be a connection between her diastasis and pelvic floor issues
(12) “Just don’t poke around down there.”
– Said to a client explaining how she can feel her uterus falling out when sitting on the toilet
(13) “When you are done having babies and do not want to be sexually active anymore we can talk about surgery.”
– Said to mother of 2 who was having some prolapse symptoms
(14) “It is not going to get any better so if you want to have another baby you better do it soon.”
– Said to a mother after having 1 baby and a traumatic birth recovery
(15) “There is nothing wrong with you. This is what motherhood feels like.”
– Said to a mom when she asked about pelvic pain, stress incontinence, and low back pain
(16) “You can expect to wet your pants on and off for the rest of your life.”
– Said to a mother after her second vaginal birth when she tried to return to exercise but started having stress incontinence
(17) “Yes, I noticed the prolapse a while ago but I did not want to say anything since you did not seem to complain about it.”
– Said by a midwife after the mother asked why she felt heaviness in her vaginal canal after sex
(18) “There is not much point in trying to rehab your diastasis or pelvic floor until you are done having kids.”
– Said to a mom who had diastasis recti and pelvic floor weakness and wanted to get a physical therapy referral to strengthen her body before getting pregnant again
(19) “You likely will have to live with this for the next 10-20 years until it gets bad enough to do surgery.”
– Said to mother struggling with mild bladder prolapse
(20) “Kegels will fix that.”
– Said to a woman who said she can not really feel anything during sex anymore
Sadly, comments like these are not only careless, but they are medical neglect. It is unrealistic for us to expect physicians and birth professionals to know everything. However, it is important to recognize the authority that their words and advice have and to be aware.
Early intervention in pelvic floor issues can make a huge difference in the speed of recovery and the effectiveness of rehabilitation. For this reason, any amount dismissing symptoms is dangerous. At The Tummy Team, our mission is to never dismiss your symptoms even if we do not know how to address it. Helping you understand what is happening and giving your practical and clinically proven strategies to rehabilitate your core and pelvic floor is our goal.
Please, do not let a careless or neglectful piece of advice keep you from getting the help available. Check out what we do at The Tummy Team for functional core and pelvic floor rehabilitation. Try our Core Foundations or Floor of Your Core 8-Week Online Programs.
If you have heard something similar to above, please share with us. Our goal is not to bash the medical community but to shed light on how these comments make an impact and how advice needs to be thoughtful and medically appropriate.