Amy is Live with Integrated Pelvic Health!

Fiona McMahon DPT

amy2016What would you ask a pelvic floor physical therapy expert about exercise, or about the pelvic health as an athlete, if you had the chance? Don’t miss Amy Stein, founder of Beyond Basics Physical Therapy and author of Heal Pelvic Pain answer some commonly asked questions in a webinar hosted by well-renowned Jessica Drummond of Integrated Women’s Health Institute. Jessica is a nutritionist specializing in abdomino-pelvic health and dysfunction.  She will be interviewing Amy on the athlete and pelvic floor dysfunction, treatment paradigms, and practical tips for relieving the under active and the overactive pelvic floor.


Time: Friday, Sept 23, from 12-1pm EST.


Remember this interview can be replayed later if you cannot view it live.



Resources for Pelvic Pain:

Beyond Basics Physical Therapy:


Heal Pelvic Pain:


Integrated Women’s Health Institute:


Link to hear Amy and many other wonderful pelvic health experts speak in December about the female athlete and pelvic floor dysfunction:


Gaining a Sense of Hope and Empowerment

By Nancy Fish, LCSW, MPH (co-author, with Deborah Coady,M.D. of Healing Painful  Sex)

When thinking about registering for the Alliance for Pelvic Pain Patient Retreat, I imagine you are asking yourself, “Why would a person suffering from pelvic pain, with more medical appointments than is humanly possible to handle, add another item on an already overwhelming “to do” list?” It would be completely understandable if that is your initial reaction.

So why is this retreat a must in your path to physical and emotional healing? There are so many reasons why this retreat can be a life-altering event but I’ll just name a few compelling ones. As a psychotherapist who specializes in pelvic pain (I am also a pelvic pain patient) the primary challenges I hear from most of my clients are:

“I feel so alone.”

“This is too embarrassing to talk about with ANYONE.”

”I feel so hopeless and that there is nothing that can help me.”

“I feel like I will never have sex again.”

“Who will want me?”

“No doctor understands this and no doctor can help me.”

If you are reading this blog, I’m sure you can identify with a few if not all of these statements.  If only ONE of these statements is something you relate to, then the AFPP retreat is an event you cannot afford to miss. It will provide you with invaluable tools to address all of your concerns. You will have access to some of the world’s most renowned medical, physical therapy, and mental health professionals specializing in the integrative treatment of pelvic pain who will be able to answer any of your questions or concerns.  There will be opportunities to register for significantly discounted one on one sessions with expert physical therapists, an Acupuncturist, a yoga instructor, and services from the EarthMind Wellness Center at Honor’s Haven. You will also be with other individuals who share the same concerns and challenges and you will not have to explain issues like “why you can’t sit” or “why this pain makes you feel you are going crazy.” For the first time in a long time you will not have to justify behaviors or decisions that you are confronted with on a daily basis – you can just be you.

One of the greatest tools you will gain from this retreat is empowerment.  Pelvic pain can be so disempowering and our goal is give you the ability to empower yourself so you begin or continue on the path of self-healing through a combination of medical and integrative health techniques. I never ask any of my clients to use a technique that I don’t use myself.  And I have found that medical interventions are often essential but not enough.  Overcoming pelvic pain takes an “East meets the West” approach using a daily practice of mindfulness, meditation, and other integrative techniques.

Participants leave the retreat with a new support system, a sense of self-empowerment, and a host of self-healing practices (such as a physical therapy home program) that will be invaluable on your journey to recovery – and most important, A RENEWED SENSE OF HOPE.


(Spaces are limited so please book your reservation as soon as possible.  Also, for funding opportunities, all participants should go to


Your Voices: Alliance for Pelvic Pain Testimonial II

Due to the cold and snowy winter we are having, with no end in sight, and rough traveling, especially for people with chronic pelvic pain, we are moving the NYC weekend retreat to the nice warm springtime, the weekend of May 31- June 1.  Join us then, and take a look at another testimonial from the retreat!

1. Which aspect(s) of the retreat do you feel benefited you the most?
The most beneficial aspects were the physical therapy exercises and workshops. Although the classes were large, the instructors still offered great personalized (and general) advice that is less effective in a print format. A close second was the mind-body workshop with Alex. It was also heart-warming to hear people’s stories; I was so glad to meet people I could finally relate to.

2. Did you use new information you received to pursue different medical or complementary treatments in the last 6 months? If yes, which treatments did you seek out and participate in?
I utilized some of the PT exercises we learned, since I don’t have access to such services where I live. I also follow Alex’s instruction on meditation throughout the day.

3. Have you made changes in your lifestyle or habits because of what you learned at the retreat?
I already changed a lot of habits before the retreat, so not really. I generally try to minimize stress.

4. Would you recommend our retreat to another person with chronic pain?

Your Voices

Please enjoy the following testimonial of a patient who attended last year’s Alliance for Pelvic Pain retreat…

Which aspect(s) of the retreat do you feel benefited you the most?
The Grief/Loss session was incredibly freeing for me because it was the first time I fully expressed how much I had lost from the illness and how much it hurt. The difference being I expressed it to people who could understand because they had gone through it as well. Pelvic pain is such a lonely illness as it is hard for others to understand, and it is a destroying illness of relationships, ability to work, of self worth and esteem. It made me also realize that as I treated my body, I needed to consider treating my emotions too. I had never considered therapy to talk about it before then.

The presentations presented as a collective group were great. Some things I knew as I was already in the process of treatment, some things were new to me. The saying “it’s all connected” is so true and as I saw how the different conditions affected each other or how you could have more than one was enlightening in terms of being able to explore possible new treatments because maybe we were missing pieces of the puzzle.

I was a skeptic about the mind/body/meditation to help with the pain. That was new to me and didn’t seem like to would be of any great help. Until I went home, had a really bad episode and put on the free DVD from Alexandra that was included in our materials.  THAT was a revelation because it did calm my fight or flight response and help with bringing me out of my fog of pain. In hindsight, I would count that session and presentation as very valuable.

Have you made changes in your lifestyle or habits because of what you learned at the retreat?  The retreat provided me with new language to use when trying to express why I can or cannot participate in a certain activity and that has led to me being a little more comfortable talking about it. Now, most people just know I suffer from pelvic “nerve damage” and have no idea of the real truth of my suffering. But they understand pain and nerve damage and that is enough to give them a sliver of understanding why I carry my cushion with me everywhere. That is something the retreat gave me – for the first time I took my cushion out to dinner with me each night I was at the conference! Meeting other people like me made me feel not so “strange” and gave me the confidence to take my cushion with me so I could be comfortable for once at a restaurant. And I’ve become quite discreet about it!

The retreat also made me realize that I had to be kind to my body, even though I often think of it betraying me. But now I manage stress better, I will not overload myself for anyone else, and if I need to rest, I do. I also exercise more to keep my body moving.  Sure, I can’t do the high impact stuff of the years before Vulvodynia, but I can do other exercises with modification. It had been good for my mind as well as body.  I also take my supplements more seriously than I have in the past. Tart cherry concentrate has been so helpful, flax and fish oil every day, and vitamins B, E, K, D plus magnesium and biotin every day.

More from Our Upcoming Alliance for Pelvic Pain Interview!

Here are some more questions for our upcoming Alliance for Pelvic Pain Interview with Amy Stein on The Pelvic Messenger! Don’t forget to call in on Thursday, January 30th, at 6:00 PM EST.  Please feel free to call in and ask questions! To access the live interview next Thursday, please click the link below at that time:–interview. Don’t forget, Alliance members will be giving away free copies of their books, videos, and CDs to people who call in with questions!

4.    What about patients who have already tried physical therapy but it hasn’t helped, or even exacerbated their symptoms?

At Beyond Basics Physical Therapy, we often encounter patients who have previously been treated unsuccessfully by other physical therapists.  There are a variety of reasons why any given patient may respond better to one practitioner versus a different one.

The first factor involves the amount of experience and training of the physical therapist.  Very often, a patient may present with urinary incontinence and automatically be told to perform Kegels, pelvic floor strengthening exercises.  However, this may worsen the problem!  The physical therapist may inaccurately assume that weakness= incontinence, therefore strengthening seems like the appropriate course of action.  HOWEVER, we have often seen patients present with incontinence due to OVERACTIVE or SHORTENED pelvic floor muscles.  These patients require manual therapy and downtraining of the pelvic floor muscles, not uptraining and strengthening.  In fact, very often the weakness naturally resolves by correcting the shortened muscles and restoring normal resting tone.

Another factor is that if a patient doesn’t connect well with their physical therapist or if there is poor communication, the healing process will be hindered.  For example, if a patient feels nervous with the therapist or uncomfortable with any aspect of the treatment, their muscles will respond and reflect that fear by tightening.  This may be due to a personality difference, or it can be that they need to include some type of mental health therapy such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.  Another example could be that the physical therapist is not asking the right questions or enough questions to obtain the information that they need to properly treat the patient.

Furthermore, the therapist may not be looking at the body as a whole.  They may not be trained or forget to incorporate treatment of the external musculature or the internal rectal and/or vaginal trigger points.  They also may not be incorporating relaxation techniques that are essential to their healing.  Another example is that they may not be trained in treating nerve pain (ex. pudendal neuralgia).

Also, the patient may not have gotten better because they might not have been receiving specific integrative treatment.  For example, a patient with fertility issues might be experiencing infertility due to visceral restrictions.  Such an individual would benefit from visceral manipulation treatment to restore mobility of the organs and to eliminate abdomino-pelvic cavity restrictions.  Very few therapists, even pelvic floor physical therapists, have advanced training in this technique.  Fortunately, Michele McGurk, a practitioner at Beyond Basics Physical Therapy who is highly trained in visceral mobilization, will be attending the retreat and available for one on one sessions.

STAY TUNED for additional information on this topic in future blogs!

5.    How will this year’s retreat be similar to last year’s retreat? How will it be different?

The retreat will be similar in terms of its goals.  The goals of Alliance for Pelvic Pain are to teach “pelvic 101” to patients from the perspective of physicians, physical therapists, mental health therapists, and other integrative therapies.  Similar to last year, we want to unite people who have pelvic pain to help build a support network.  Unfortunately, too many people suffer in silence and think that they are alone.  The retreat offers people the opportunity to discover that that is NOT the case and that there are others who can relate to their challenges.  The ongoing goals of the Alliance are to provide education and awareness about pelvic pain, to provide support, and to provide self care techniques to initiate the healing process immediately.

The retreat will be different in that we are addressing male pelvic pain.  We will also be joined by new practitioners who are very experienced in treating pelvic pain in men and women.  Some of these practitioners include: Dena Harris, MD, Jaclyn Bondar, MD, Michele McGurk, PT, Roseanne Cruz Schoen, DPT, Paula Haberman, PT, MS, LAc, Mindy Pickard, MS, LAc, Dana Reed, MS, CNS, and Galen Fou, health chef.  For more information of the Alliance for Pelvic Pain and the aforementioned health care providers, please refer to

Amy LIVE on the Air: January 30!

By Riva Preil

To whet your appetite…enjoy the pre-game show!  Amy Stein will be interviewed LIVE on The Pelvic Messenger with Robert Echenberg, MD, and Lisa Petti, an attendee from last year’s Alliance for Pelvic Pain Retreat.  The interview will be to discuss the success of last year’s retreat as well as the upcoming retreat (March 8-9 in New York City).  The interview will take place next Thursday, January 30th, at 6:00 PM EST.  Please feel free to call in and ask questions! To access the live interview next Thursday, please click the link below at that time:–interview

Questions for Alliance Interview

1.    What topics will be presented at the retreat?

In the morning, we will present and discuss what pelvic pain is and the many factors contributing to pelvic pain, the possible causes, why it is so commonly misdiagnosed, evaluation and treatment from a physician perspective, mental health and physical therapy perspective.  In the afternoon, we will have workshops with the mental health providers on topics such as: emotional aspects of chronic pain, mindfulness-based stress reduction, coping techniques for wellbeing and ways to maintain hope.  Physical therapy workshops will include gentle self-massage techniques, stretches, and relaxation techniques specific to the pelvic floor.   There will also be a question and answer session with both Dr. Echenberg and Dr. Coady, which is new this year!  There will also be yoga each morning, with Dustienne Miller, as well as 1 on 1 evaluations and/or treatments with many wonderful integrative therapists and physicians.

2.    What are your goals for the retreat?

The goals for the retreat are to create a safe learning environment where participants feel comfortable in expressing their thoughts and feelings. Furthermore, the goals of this curriculum are for patients suffering from chronic pelvic pain (CPP) to develop proficiency in the following areas:

Participants will develop and practice self-healing techniques.
Participants will create a consolidation of self-care skills acquired during the therapies.
Participants will illustrate to themselves and others that progress can be made in managing their pain.
Participants will assess the cognitive, emotional, social, spiritual, and physical consequences of their chronic pelvic pain and how these influences are affected by the pain.
Participants will develop understanding of how CPP affects their sexuality.
Participants will develop an understanding of how CPP affects their relationships with friends, family, and themselves and will learn how to better navigate these relationships.
Participants will develop an understanding of multiple treatment approaches that they can explore within their own community.
Participants will learn how to reframe their sexuality as it relates to CPP.
Participants will have an opportunity to connect with others who share their experiences and feelings related to CP.

3.    Which patients are appropriate candidates to attend the retreat?

The retreat is appropriate for: Chronic pelvic pain, Interstitial Cystitis (IC), Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, Vulvodynia, Vestibulitis,Non-Bacterial Prostatitis, Lichen Sclerosis, Pudendal, Neuralgia, Endometriosis, and other pelvic and genital pain disorders (including hyperarousal disorder).