Self Care and Pelvic Pain
There are many ways you can minimize your pelvic pain. Many women with pelvic pain and vulvodynia have integrated self-care practices as a means of controlling pain and perineal irritation. In women with vulvar irritation, the following practices may be helpful.
Practices that may be helpful when you have chronic pelvic pain
- Rinse perineal and vulvar area after voiding using a squirt bottle, bidet or shower spray (I like to use a sitz bath with warm water and baking soda and just use my hand. It seems that even face cloths etc… can hurt me area during a flare up.)
- Wash new underclothes and night wear before wearing, rinsing without fabric softener.
- Wear only white, 100% cotton underwear.
- Consider using boxer type underwear to give your area more room to breathe.
- Use soft toilet tissue – white preferred – no bleach (I have found Seven Generation facial tissue to work the best for me. I buy it from www.well.ca )
- Use non-deodorized tampons for menstrual flow (I can use these at all. You could consider a menstrual cup if you can tolerate it. Many use DivaCup with good results)
- Consider using the Mooncup – excellent article on how to use a menstrual cup by The Vagina Monologue Blog.
- Use corn starch powder after bathing, before dressing and at bed time (I don’t do this, but some do – I like to apply pure Vitamin E oil before bed)
- Rinse underclothes carefully after washing – never use dryer sheets – second rinse if possible. I like to use Dr. Bronners castile soap to wash my undergarments in.
- Using a TheraWand for “trigger points” – Gentle stretch with the wand (keep in the fridge, so it’s always nice and cool) – use an adequate amount of lubrication (you can keep in the fridge). This will help to cool the tissue.
- Ice Pack – apply the ice pack to your hot spots for ten minutes or so. Take a break, repeat.
- Use a lubricant during sex.
- Check out Sara Sauder’s article on washing your vaginal area. I found it on Pelvic Guru, a great resource on pelvic pain issues.
- The vagina (and uterus and vulva for that matter) should be viewed as self-cleaning ovens. So don’t use harmful products on them. I know that Brazilian waxing can cause problems as well as using chemical depilatories. Use scissors if you want to trim.
- Low levels of iron and ferritin, low levels of D and B12 have an impact on genital tissue. Think about getting these levels checked out by your doctor.
- Change your thinking patterns about your pain says Lorraine Faehndrich, a Women’s Health Mentor at Radiant Life Design. She lists a handful of strategies that may help you break a negative cycle of thinking.
- Check out this website by Dr. Jerome Weiss for pelvic pain help.
- Visualize a relaxed pelvic floor. Chronically tight pelvic-floor muscles need many reminders throughout the day to relax. Set up a reminder system to ask yourself, “Where is my pelvic floor?” Think about the area softening, melting, widening.
- Breathe. Diaphragmatic breathing helps to widen the abdominal and pelvic regions. Lie on your back, pillow under your knees. Place your hands on the sides of your ribs. Inhale slowly through your nose for a count of 4-5 seconds. During your inhalation, allow your ribs to expand outward into your hands. As your ribs expands, visualize your pelvic floor muscles widening. With each inhalation, imagine or visualize the bottom of the pelvic bowl expanding in all directions—front, back, left, right. Slowly exhale (quietly) for 5-6 seconds. Repeat 5 times. Try and keep your lips together, teeth apart and tongue on the roof of your mouth. Try to do this twice daily.
Practices to avoid when you have chronic pelvic pain
- Minimize perineal scratching
- Use of perfumed soaps and powder
- Wearing of nylon (e.g. pantyhose) or rayon
- Use of perineal pads (Kotex, Modess, etc.)
- Sitting in wet clothing for any period of time (i.e., wet bathing suit)
- Use of lanolin, bubble bath, bath oils, feminine hygiene sprays, etc.
- Routine vaginal douching
- Swimming in heavy chlorinated pools or hot tubs
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