Multiple times a week, someone will ask me “so, why did you choose to do THIS?”. The question is typically asked right after I’ve asked the person to show me the consistency of their bowel movements on a very descriptive chart (shoutout to the Bristol Stool Chart!).
Did I always know I wanted to help people learn how to better control their bodily functions? Heck no! But here’s how I ended up a pelvic health specialist and why I love it.
I’ve always known I wanted to be a part of a helping profession; to better the world, and the people in it in some way, shape or form. In high school, I messed up my knee pretty badly playing sports, requiring surgery and a few rounds of physical therapy of which opened up my eyes to the therapy world. Growing up in an active family, I knew rehabbing my injury would take physical work, but I never realized the emotional and psychological toll an injury could have on a person. So when deciding on a major for my undergraduate studies, I was pleased to find the option of Bachelors of Science in Rehabilitation Psychology. I could prepare for physical therapy school and get a better understanding of why humans are all so uniquely different. It was the perfect combination for me.
Fast forward a few years, while I’m working on earning my doctorate of physical therapy and the hot button question is: “What are you thinking of specializing in?”. I did NOT know. Heck, I was just trying to absorb the current information we were learning, much less thinking about additional schooling following graduate school.
In hindsight, my interest in the pelvic health speciality did actually start in grad school as I'd come across a random research study on how to measure pelvic floor strength or a video about how the speculum was invented. We’d talk about how important the pelvis was to the stability of the entire body in every movement, but then we wouldn’t dive deeper into why and how this worked. I was intrigued.
I completed the doctoral program and began my first year as a treating clinician, in an orthopedic outpatient clinic. A great opportunity to treat many various injuries and impairments. While it was rewarding, I knew I needed more. Thankfully, the company I was working for offered some continuing education credit and I decided I should try an Introduction to Pelvic Health course, just to see if I still found it interesting. I was hooked immediately. I didn’t understand why more people weren’t talking about it!
Over the next few years, I continued to take additional coursework, began treating part-time ortho, part-time pelvic caseloads and then eventually made the jump into full-time pelvic health therapy, before sitting for my speciality certification.
As I gained experience in this niche specialty of the physical therapy profession, I realized how invaluable it can be to listen to someone’s life story. How the small habits we pick up along the way make such a large impact a few to many years down the road. I started to see just how drastically I could impact people’s lives and my passion has been ignited ever since…
I wanted to let that older man in church know, he can stand up and sit down with everyone else and not have to worry about passing gas involuntarily.
That woman who turns down walking at the park with her friends because she’s nervous she’ll have to pee 6 times on the loop, you don’t have to deal with that.
How about the first time mom, who has no idea what to expect from her pregnancy or delivery and keeps being told “that’s all normal” by her OB-GYN, but in reality the back pain and constipation she’s having are making her life miserable.
The wife who’s been with her husband for 18 years, but hasn’t been able to have pleasurable intercourse with him for over 6 years because it’s ‘just too painful’.
Or a man in his 30’s who woke up one day with genital pain and after MRIs, X Rays, numerous visits to physicians and urologists was told “everything looks normal, you should be fine'' but is scared because the pain is still there and he doesn’t know what to do about it.
These examples are just a glimmer into the types of issues I get the chance to help people solve. I hear the pain and frustration in their stories and I get to be the one to say “Let’s do something about that right now”. It’s refreshing to be the voice that empowers people to take control of their lives again.
So I will take every opportunity to scream it from the rooftops…give pelvic physical therapy a chance! You may just be surprised at how your life can improve.
If you or a loved one is dealing with pelvic symptoms, I'd love to help you out. Send me your contact information here and I'll reach out shortly!