Spring Pelvic Health 101 is Coming

Fiona McMahon, DPT, PT

Pelvic Health 101 is back with some old favorites like, “Something’s wrong with my what?” and “Why is pooping so difficult?” We have also added a new course on pediatric pelvic floor issues.

If you have questions, we have answers. Join us for lectures and question and answer opportunities with expert pelvic health physical therapists, childbirth educators, and nutritionists. Please reserve your spot early at pelvichealth-101.eventbrite.com. Remember spots fill up quickly. As always, light refreshments will be served.

pelvic-health-101-spring-2017

Yeast the Inflammation Beast

 

candida-albicans

Fiona McMahon DPT, PT

You are what you eat. Trash in equals trash out. You can’t exercise yourself away from an unhealthy diet. These adages are often on my mind as I make my food choices because of the myriad of health professionals who have taken time to come to our practice to tell us how we can improve our own and our patients’ health by taking more time to look at what we are consuming in our diet. Lately many of these clinicians have been focusing on candida overgrowth and diet, which can contribute to pain and inflammation conditions.

What we eat can directly affect the bacterial and fungal make up of the gut, AKA the gut microbiome.The gut requires a certain level of good bacteria to help us digest what we eat. Over time a poor gut microbiome can affect how efficiently the gut works. The function of the gut goes beyond just digesting food, but also is vitally important for the production of neurotransmitters, which help to spread messages within the brain and throughout  the whole body.  The microbiome also plays an important role in our hormones, and immune system. When the microbiome of the gut is not balanced, it is called dysbiosis.

One of the most common culprits in gut microbiota dysbiosis is candida, (Yeast!). Candida is a naturally occurring inhabitant of the body and when it’s at appropriate levels, it doesn’t tend to be noticed, but anyone who has experienced a yeast infection knows that if this little guy is allowed to go unchecked, it can do a lot to make you miserable. Besides plaguing women with itching, burning vulvas, yeast overgrowth may cause many other ailments.

Science has pointed to the role candida can play in contributing to chronic and inflammatory conditions. In one study by Kumamoto in 2011, candida overgrowth was associated with delayed healing of inflammatory lesions and were associated with pro-inflammatory cytokines (chemicals) and increased incidence of inflammatory bowel disease like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s  disease.

Yeast overgrowth can also affect the bladder along with over colonization of saccharomyces (another form of fungus). In fact yeast and saccharomyces was found to be higher in women during a flare of interstitial cystitis than when their symptoms were low.

Yeast is not the only organism that can get out of balance and affect our bodies in harmful ways. There are many other players that can get out of balance. Some signs of an altered gut microbiome is a history of allergies, eczema, or repeated fungal infection.

 

What to do?

It all seems pretty dire, right. How do you control who is colonizing your gut, when you barely have enough time to make it to the gym after work? There are a few simple steps you can start with.

Avoid antibiotics, unless your doctor thinks you need them.

 

 

PillsThe medical community has become a lot more aware of the dangers of over prescribing antibiotics from their perspective, but it is important to keep in mind that a powerful antibiotic can wipe out good bacteria and bad bacteria in one fell swoop. If the good guys in your gut are reduced, the bad bacteria have a better chance of taking over. Take antibiotics only when recommended. Keep in mind antibiotics will not help treat viruses like the flu, they can only treat bacterial infections.

Modify your diet

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Increase your consumption of good fats (omega 3’s) to help reduce inflammation.

Food high in omega 3’s include flax and hemp seed/oils, fish (the fishier the fish, usually means more omega 3’s, for example herring is higher in omega 3 than a milder fish like snapper). Also reduce your consumption of processed foods which can increase inflammation levels and eliminate simple sugars and fried foods. If this is only minimally successful, try a gluten and dairy free diet.  

If simple changes are not helping consider seeing a professional

doctorFind a naturopath, functional or integrated MD, or nutritionist who can investigate more fully whether or not you have SIBO (Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), candida overgrowth, or other gut microbiome disorder. Or perhaps you are lacking certain ingredients, vitamins or mineral.  These professionals can tailor a diet and medication regimen to help return your gut microbiome to tip top shape.

 

 

Sources:

Kamamoto C. Inflammation and gastrointestinal candida colonization. Cur Opin Microbiol. 2011;14(40): 386-391

Upcoming Live Webinar: The Collaborative Clinical Care Model Between Therapists and Pelvic Floor Physical Therapists Involving Clients with Sexual Pain

 

Amy Stein, PT, DPT

WHEN: Monday, February 6, from 12.30-2.30pm at www.saricooper.com/webinars/

INTENDED AUDIENCE: sex therapists, general therapists, pelvic floor physical therapists and other health and wellness providers.

HOSTED BY : Amy Stein, DPT, BCB-PMD, IF and Sari Cooper, LCSW, CST

CEs for LMSW/LCSWs, AASECT

CEs for Physical Therapy

Blog By Amy Stein, DPT

I am so pleased to offer my first cross-disciplinary webinar with Sari Cooper, LCSW, CST, a leading expert in sexual health, sexual pain,and women’s health. She is the Founder and Director of Center for Love and Sex, and is a licensed individual, couples and AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist, sex coach, writer, trainer, supervisor and media expert. She specializes in sexual disorders, sexual avoidance, couple’s communication, affairs, separation, depression, anxiety, and alternative sexual interests.

Sari was trained in the Family Systems Model, which states that if there is a change in one person in the family, than it affects the whole family system.  This directly affects couples in which one partner is suffering with pelvic pain.  Sari helps the couple and the individual work on communication skills and gives them practice exercises to address their emotional and sexual relationship. When it comes to couples sexual function, Cooper feels she almost always asks clients to work with both partners.  Using techniques such teaching couples the importance of outercourse as well as intercourse in order to sustain erotic connection while a partner is being treated for pelvic pain.

Sari recognizes the need for a multimodal approach in treating pain. She has years long experience treating men and women whose pain is musculoskeletal, systemic, hormonal, or related to another condition, in addition to psychological. She is experienced and collaborated with pelvic floor physical therapists and other medical providers to aid in the healing process.

As pelvic floor PTs, we help the musculoskeletal conditions related to sexual dysfunction and we work closely with mental health and sexual health therapists.  In women, we see and have great success with treating conditions  like vulvodynia, provoked or unprovoked vestibulodynia, vaginismus, endometriosis, pelvic neuralgias like pudendal neuralgia, and other pelvic conditions. In men, we successfully treat musculoskeletal conditions related to erectile dysfunctions, non bacterial prostatitis, and genital and pelvic pain.

In our upcoming webinar, Sari will be reviewing some of the education about the female sexual response cycle that she provides couples to help them re-discover pleasure and eroticism while the patient is working with her pelvic floor physical therapist on relieving her pain.

To learn more, sign up for Amy Stein, DPT and Sari Cooper’s LIVE LUNCHTIME  webinar on Monday, February 6, from 12.30-2.30pm at www.saricooper.com/webinars/ CEs for PTs, LMSW/LCSWs, AASECT Therapists/Counselors will be provided.

Tune in! Blog Talk Radio: Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder

Stephanie Stamas, DPTblog-talk

We have exciting news! Our very own physical therapist, Dr. Stephanie Stamas, will have the honor of interviewing Dr. Irwin Goldstein on the talk radio show, The Pelvic Messenger. Dr. Goldstein is an expert in sexual medicine and world-renown physician specializing in the treatment of sexual dysfunction and pain. He is currently the Medical Director of Sexual Medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, Director of San Diego Sexual Medicine, Editor-in-Chief for The Journal of Sexual Medicine and President of The Institute for Sexual Medicine.

Dr. Goldstein will be discussing the often-sensationalized topic of Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder, or PGAD. The International Society for the Study of Women’s Sexual Health (ISSWSH) defines PGAD as “a persistent or recurrent, unwanted or intrusive, bothersome or distressing, genital dysesthesia (abnormal sensation) unassociated with sexual interest.” This condition has gotten more and more media attention over the past decade as several magazines have covered individual’s personal struggles. The most unfortunate aspect of PGAD is people perceptions of the condition as possibly “desirable.” Magazine headlines reading “I Have Orgasms All Day Long” misconstrue the fact that it is a pain condition and that the orgasms are painful, not pleasurable, which can be devastating.

There are several theories behind why this condition occurs, ranging from excessive sensory information from irritated nerves, tight pelvic floor muscles that can cause changes in the local nerves and genital tissues and/or a decreased inhibition of the central sexual reflex in the brain. Often, PGAD is a subset of a larger group of disorders known as Chronic or Persistent Pelvic Pain.

With over 35 years of experience, it will be an honor to pick Dr. Goldstein’s brain on diagnosing PGAD and effective treatment techniques that he has used in this patient population. To learn more about PGAD, make sure to listen in on Sunday, February 5th at 3 PM EST at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pelvicmessenger.

BBPT Health Tip: Adding Pelvic Floor Relaxation to Deep Breathing

Amy Stein DPT, PT and Fiona McMahon DPT, PT

 

bookhppThis blog contains information adapted from Heal Pelvic Pain by Amy Stein. If you are interested in learning more about pelvic floor exercises you can do on your own, please visit http://www.healpelvicpain.com/ , http://amzn.to/2ioSz2J, or visit us at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy in New York City to get your copy today.

 

In an earlier post we discussed the positive benefits of adding diaphragmatic breathing to your routine to reduce stress. If you missed it, check it out here .

But why not go a step further. Did you know that you can add pelvic floor drops to your breathing routine to help relax a tight and painful pelvic floor.

 

What is a pelvic floor drop?

A pelvic floor drop is the relaxation of the muscles of the pelvic floor. It is like that feeling you have when you can finally relax the muscle in between your legs after holding urine in for a long time. It’s a great feeling of relaxation and here’s how you can mimic it when you don’t have to go.

 

But How do I do it?

 

  • Step 1: Get comfortable. Sit, stand, lay down, whatever suits you, relax your body and close your eyes
  • Step 2: Breathe deep. Inhale between 3 and 5 seconds
  • Step 3: Exhale. Exhale slowly, 5-6 seconds. As you exhale imagine your breath gently placing pressure on your pelvic floor into relaxation. Don’t push or strain.

Like diaphragmatic breathing, you can use this technique throughout the day to help reduce stress and pain in the pelvic floor. Happy breathing!

Prostatitis What it is and What to do About it

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Fiona McMahon DPT

Introduction

Prostatitis is a common diagnosis we see at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy. If I have a new evaluation on my schedule, who is male and between the ages of 18-40, we can place a pretty good bet that they are coming to see me for issues pertaining to non-bacterial prostatitis. It is estimated that 35-50% of men are reported to have prostatitis symptoms  in their lifetime (Rees). Prostatitis can be classified into different types based on their causes and response to treatment. Prostatitis is a vexing condition for many patients. In cases of non-bacterial prostatitis, which makes up 95% of all prostatitis, it’s often very difficult to determine what brought it on, and often times our patients have been bouncing from practitioner to practitioner trying to find answers and effective treatment. Let’s dive into the causes, symptoms, and treatment in order to help shed light on this condition.

 

Prostatitis Symptoms,

Although there are different types of prostatitis, the symptoms of prostatitis are mostly the same between types. That isn’t to suggest that every man with prostatitis experiences the same symptoms, quite on the contrary. Men with prostatitis may experience almost all of the symptoms listed below or they may only notice one or two. This melange of symptom possibilities can add to the confusion of having prostatitis and getting down to an effective cure.

 

Symptoms:

  • The sensation of having a golf ball stuck in the rectum
  • Hesitant urinary stream (having trouble getting the urine to start flowing)
  • Post void dribble (spotting of urine on underwear following voiding)
  • Pain that radiates into the abdomen (this is one of the differences from symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia)
  • Erectile dysfunction and decreased libido
  • Painful ejaculation
  • Painful or burning urination
  • Genital pain: penile, testicular, groin and perineal pain

 

Types of prostatitis:

Here’s where it gets a little more complicated. There isn’t one type of prostatitis. There are four. Each type of prostatitis is a little different in terms of etiology (how it developed) and how it’s treated.

Type 1: Acute bacterial prostatitis

This type of prostatitis is caused by an infection by a microbe. It is relatively rare. In addition to the symptoms above, a person with this type of prostatitis will feel the symptoms of an ongoing infection, including pain in the body, fever, and chills. This type of prostatitis generally response well to antibiotic treatment.

Type 2: Chronic bacterial prostatitis

Chronic bacterial prostatitis can occur after multiple infection or when there is an ongoing low grade infection. The symptoms, particularly those of infection are dampened in this form of prostatitis than those of type 1. Type 2 is often more tricky to treat and may require multiple courses of antibiotics

Type 3: Chronic Prostatitis/ Chronic pelvic pain syndrome (the most common making up 90-95% of all prostatitis and WHAT WE TREAT!)

This type of prostatitis occurs with no evident infectious cause and makes up the majority of cases. This is the classification that is one of the more frustrating for patients to deal with because the causal agent is much harder to ascertain; however the majority have musculoskeletal dysfunction, which we now know can be treated effectively through expert pelvic floor physical therapy.  Type III prostatitis can be further categorized based on the presence or absence of white blood cells in the urine or prostatic fluid, inflammatory and noninflammatory respectively.

Type 4: Asymptomatic inflammatory prostatitis

As the name implies, this type of prostatitis is usually not noticed unless semen or urine analysis is being performed to diagnose another condition. Typically this type is left untreated.

 

Causes

Here’s one of the universal questions that patients with prostatitis have: “why do I have this?”  Sometimes patients may find themselves blaming their prostatitis on something they have done in the past, like masturbating or poor hygiene habits as children. The fact is, prostatitis can occur for a multitude of reasons, and it’s usually something one has no control over like a fall on the bottom or an infection. It’s unfortunately something that happens, and as noted in the introduction of this blog, it is quite common. Here are some possible causes:

 

  • In chronic nonbacterial prostatitis/ chronic pelvic pain syndrome 90-95% of cases- no definitive cause ( or very difficult to ascertain); however pelvic floor dysfunction is a prevalent contributor.  
  • Bacterial infection, which can have good results with antibiotics
  • Chronic bacterial prostatitis, recurrent infection
  • Inflammation to the pelvic area
  • Central and peripheral sensitization- meaning a past injury in the area caused your pelvic nerves to perceive non painful stimuli as painful
  • Trigger points (irritable points of muscle) in the pelvic floor and abdomen

 

Treatment

Treatment is evolving in prostatitis. Increasing evidence supports a multimodal approach to treating prostatitis and its symptoms, meaning that not only is medical intervention used, but psychological, nutritional, and physical therapy.

From a medical perspective the first line of treatment for prostatitis is the “3 A’s”, antibiotics (especially the quinolone class), anti-inflammatories, and alpha blockers. Antibiotics obviously clear up any infection that might be causing your symptoms, anti-inflammatories to bring down the pain and discomfort, and alpha blockers to improve urine flow. Sometimes this is just what the doctor ordered (literally), especially in individuals with type 1 prostatitis and they are on their way with no further treatment needed. Since the vast majority of people with chronic prostatitis fall outside of the type one category and into more difficult to treat types, their recovery may require a more involved intervention to effectively treat their symptoms and the 3 A’s may not be the answer, or the complete answer for these patients.

 

Physical Therapy: Anderson and his colleagues described the relationship between the presence of myofascial trigger points and symptomatic prostatitis. They also showed that physical therapy intervention, including manual release of these trigger points was effective in reducing symptoms of prostatitis. The benefit of physical therapy was shown again to be more effective than placebo in a 2011 paper by Nickel. In addition to treating the trigger points themselves, PT’s work to determine what lead up to the formation of the trigger points in the first place, whether that be poor habitual posture, poor strength, or tight muscles in other parts of the body. They also teach patients how to avoid clenching their pelvic floor to prevent exacerbating symptoms.  This type of therapeutic approach was found to be effective in reducing pain in 72% of participants in a study conducted by Anderson and colleagues in 2005. The therapists at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy work to go beyond simple treatment of the trigger points themselves.  We develop plans and treatments to prevent their recurrence in the future.   Some other effective physical therapy techniques that we use include but are not limited to, joint mobilization to assist proper structural alignment, therapeutic exercise, postural and neuromuscular re-education and a detailed and individualized home exercise program.

 

Dietary Modifications:

Avoiding irritants to the bladder and gastrointestinal system is another simple and effective place to start. In some men, avoiding spicy foods, alcohol and caffeine can work wonders in making symptoms more manageable.   

 

Phytotherapy:

Preliminary data shows that there is evidence to support the use of saw palmetto, quercetin and bee pollen extract in reducing the pain of prostatitis. If supplementation interests you, consult with your general practitioner or urologist.

 

Stress Reduction

As clinicians who have seen a lot of cases of prostatitis, high stress is a contributor that we see with the vast majority of our patients. Studies have shown that high levels of stress are correlated with higher pain and disability scores in individuals with prostatitis. Stress can also perpetuate unhealthy holding or clenching in the pelvic floor, which causes or contributes to trigger points discussed earlier in this section. Stress reduction is a key component to expediting your recovery and is something we recommend to nearly all of our patients.

 

Final Thoughts

  • Prostatitis is a common and aggravating condition to be living with, and the fact is, every case of prostatitis is different. You may fall into the category were a course of antibiotics does the trick or you may fall into the category where you require physical therapy alongside medical intervention which can be much more slow going. Regardless of where you fall, be patient, there usually is a lot that can be done to help the more complex cases of prostatitis clear up. If you are suffering with this condition, make an appointment with an expert pelvic floor physical therapist today. There is so much we can do.

 

Sources

Anderson R, Sawyer T, Wise D. Painful myofascial trigger points and pain site in men with chronic prostatitis/ Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome. J Urol. 2009;182(6): 2753-8

Anderson R, Wise D, Sawyer T. Integration of myofascial trigger point release and paradoxical relaxation training treatment of chronic pelvic pain in men. J Urol. 2005;174(1):155-60

Chronic nonbacterial prostatitis (chronic pelvic pain syndrome). Harvard Health Publications. Harvard Medical School. 2007. http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/chronic-nonbacterial-prostatitis-chronic-pelvic-pain-syndrome. Accessed December 11, 2016

Duclos A, Lee C, Shoskes D. Current treatment options in the management of chronic prostatitis. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2007; 3(4):507-12

 

Rees J, Abrahams M, Doble A et al. Diagnosis and treatment of chronic bacterial prostatitis and chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome: a consensus guideline. BJU Int. 2015; 116(4):509-25

 

Nickel J. Prostatitis. Can Urol Assoc J. 2011; 5(5): 306-15

Tightly Wound: A film chronicaling one women’s experience with vaginismus

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At Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, we treat a lot of conditions that limit or entirely prevent someone from having sex. One of those conditions is Vaginismus. The frustration and physical toll can be tiring for patients with this condition. One of the sentiments echoed time and time again by different patients, is how isolating the whole experience can be. Not many people talk about their sex life, let alone medical conditions affecting their ability to have sex. Shelby Hadden is looking to break the stigma by making her own film chronicling her experience with vaginismus. You can read her story and support her Kickstarter campaign {hyper link to page} to fund her movie, here:

I was 24 and had never had sex. I had been dating Gadi for a few weeks and I couldn’t play defense to his advances any longer. It was time to tell him about my vaginismus.

Vaginismus was always the big black cloud of a secret looming over me.

But he surprised me. When I told him about it, he said, “I like you a lot, and we can figure this out. I still want to see you.” My heart soared. No guy I had dated up to that point had showed me an ounce of empathy, patience, or understanding. One guy walked out of my apartment, promised to call me, and never spoke to me again. Another laughed in my face and said, “That’s hilarious.” Finally, someone liked me as a whole person, not just the functionality of one body part.

The next day, he texted me this: “I’ve been thinking about what you shared with me the other night. I feel like it may be a bit more than I am ready for in a relationship. Sex is too important to me.”

He couldn’t even bother to consider what else we could do or ask how my progress in physical therapy was going. I couldn’t do it RIGHT THEN so I was “too much” for him – which in reality, in situations like these, it means that I wasn’t enough.

I was angry. I’ve been angry before – at other guys, at my body, at doctors, at Shonda Rhimes shows for making sex look so easy, fast, and fun – but this time I was absolutely furious. He gave me the reaction I had always hoped for, only to take it all back. I was just a vagina to him too. In addition, he never considered how important sex was to me. I had gone to a dozen doctors over the course of seven years. I had been going pelvic floor physical therapy every week for over a year. I had been using dilators every day for three years. No one was working harder to have sex than I was.

I needed to take action. As a filmmaker, the only way I knew how to take control over it was to make a film. So I wrote an essay, which I later turned into a script for a short animated film called, Tightly Wound.

Tightly Wound follows my journey from when I started my period and realized I couldn’t use a tampon. It chronicles the various doctors I saw and treatments I tried, the ways I hid my secret. I delve into my unsuccessful attempts at dating and explore what it means to be a virgin in today’s society.

It’s been a year since Gadi broke up with me. My essay has been published in BUST Magazine and I shared my experience at BedPost Confessions – an Austin, TX based storytelling series on sex, gender, and social change. I’ve assembled an extremely talented team of filmmakers to produce the film.

Animation is the perfect form for this film. It allows me to illustrate my internal thoughts and feelings in a metaphorical way rather than succumbing to the limitations of live-action. However, animation is an extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive process. The fastest my animator, producer, and friend, Sebastian Bisbal, can work is 5 seconds of animation per day!

 

We are raising $20,000 through Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a crowd-funding platform that allows people to support projects they believe in. Kickstarter is all-or-nothing – so if we don’t raise the $20,000, we don’t get any of it at the end of November.

It is estimated that 6% [ In a  study done by the World Health Organization, worldwide prevalence of pelvic pain has been estimated as being as high as 24%] of people with vaginas encounter pelvic pain/sexual dysfunction at some point of their lives. However, this is a difficult number to determine since shame and embarrassment keep so many people from seeking medical care.

Please join me in making this film and shining a light on pelvic pain/sexual dysfunction by donating to the Kickstarter. Thank you so much for your support!

Kickstarter link: http://kck.st/2dUTASv

Check out the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/188456092

Sincerely,

Shelby Hadden

 

Sources:

Latthe P, Latthe M, Say L, et al. WHO systematic review of prevalence of chronic pelvic pain: a neglected reproductive health  morbidity. BMB Public Health. 2006