Pride Month & Pelvic Health

Pride Month & Pelvic Health

June 1, 2023

As we embrace the vibrant spirit of Pride Month, it’s essential to shine a light on the holistic well-being of the LGBTQIA+ community. While Pride Month symbolizes love, acceptance, and equality, it also presents an opportunity to delve into essential aspects of LGBTQIA+ health. In this blog post, we explore the significance of pelvic floor therapy as a valuable tool for promoting physical and emotional well-being within the community. Remember, we all have a pelvic floor, and the anatomy of all our pelvic floors is almost the same.

Pride Month is a time of celebration, commemoration, and activism for the LGBTQ+ community. It originated from the historic Stonewall Riots and has since grown into a global movement, fostering inclusivity, visibility, and social progress. Amidst the festivities, Pride Month also provides an occasion to prioritize self-care and address unique health concerns within the LGBTQIA+ community. As pelvic floor physical therapists, we will be exploring many of the different ways pelvic floor therapy can support LGBTQIA+ individuals in navigating healthcare as well as gender expression, whether that be through surgical or non-surgical practices.

Let’s start by breaking down what “pelvic floor therapy” even means. The pelvic floor refers to a complex network of muscles, ligaments, and tissues that support the organs within the pelvis and play a crucial role in bladder and bowel control, sexual function, and core stability. Pelvic floor therapy is a personalized treatment that aims to optimize the strength, flexibility, and coordination of these muscles, enhancing overall well-being.

Pelvic floor therapy offers numerous benefits specifically for individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community. These individuals may encounter unique sexual health challenges resulting from factors such as trauma, cultural stigma, or inadequate education. By addressing concerns such as erectile dysfunction, pain during intercourse, or difficulties with orgasm, pelvic floor therapy can significantly contribute to improving sexual well-being and enhancing intimacy. It is important to recognize that the LGBTQIA+ community often faces elevated levels of stress, anxiety, and depression due to societal discrimination. In this context, pelvic floor therapy provides a safe and affirming space for individuals to address their concerns, explore emotional triggers, and work toward healing and empowerment.

Pelvic floor physical therapy can be beneficial for transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming individuals in their gender expression journeys, regardless of whether they choose to undergo surgery or not. This support can be provided in a variety of ways, so let’s explore!

Pelvic Floor Therapy for Surgical Gender Expression Procedures
Pelvic Floor therapy is an essential component of pre and post-surgical care for gender-affirming procedures. Chest reconstruction of any kind can present its own set of unique challenges. Procedures such as breast augmentation and removal can result in scars and adhesions, potentially limiting mobility in the chest, ribs, and spine. These limitations can impact breathing mechanics, posture, and the range of motion in the upper body. The expertise of physical therapists is invaluable in improving scar mobility, alleviating pain or discomfort, and enhancing range of motion. Their intervention can also contribute to minimizing the visibility of scars.

Pelvic floor physical therapy also plays a crucial role in the recovery process following genital reconstruction procedures. These surgeries can potentially lead to urinary or bowel dysfunction, including symptoms such as urgency/frequency, incomplete bladder emptying, or difficulty initiating the stream, which can result in painful urination. Additionally, individuals may experience pelvic pain or painful intercourse after undergoing genital reconstruction. In such cases, pelvic floor physical therapy becomes essential to address these issues and aid in the restoration of optimal pelvic health.

Pelvic Floor Therapy for Non-Surgical Gender Expression Practices
Of course, not every individual opts for surgery. Some trans individuals may practice binding, tucking, or packing in order to ease gender and body dysphoria. Let’s explore what these practices are, and how a pelvic floor physical therapist can guide you along to express yourself safely.

Binding involves the act of compressing breast tissue using bandages, tape, sports bras, or binders to achieve a flatter chest appearance. While it may provide relief from body dysmorphia, it carries certain risks, such as heightened chest, back, and shoulder pain, compromised posture, numbness, and potential scarring. Physical therapists can play a significant role in mitigating these issues by addressing the pain associated with constant compression. Through targeted interventions focused on the affected muscles and tissues, they can help alleviate discomfort and promote improved well-being.

Tucking is a practice that creates a flatter appearance in the pelvic region by tucking the penis under the back of the perineum and tucking the testicles into the inguinal canals. This is often achieved with tape or a gaff. A gaff is a piece of fabric attached to an elastic band that is worn like underwear and helps the penis remain tucked. This practice can lead to pelvic pain, changes in walking patterns, and muscle tension in the legs. It can also lead to urinary dysfunction due to compression of the urethra, as well as an increased risk of developing UTIs. We can work to relieve tense muscles and help to address urinary concerns and assist with gait management.

Packing involves the use of a dildo or similar object to create the appearance of a bulge in the pants resembling a penis. However, this practice can result in various issues. It can lead to alterations in walking patterns, muscle tension, pelvic pain, and urinary dysfunction. Additionally, stand-to-pee devices, if used, can cause urinary retention. We can provide assistance in relieving tense muscles, reducing pelvic pain, and addressing urinary concerns to promote improved well-being.

It is crucial to seek pelvic floor therapists who possess knowledge and experience in LGBTQIA+ healthcare, and we at Treasure Valley Pelvic Health pride ourselves on creating a safe space for all individuals. We believe it is imperative for healthcare providers to foster an inclusive environment with open dialogue to address any concerns and to develop treatment plans that honor an individual’s unique identity and experiences.

As we celebrate Pride Month and advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, let’s also remember to prioritize our physical and emotional well-being. By recognizing the unique health needs of individuals, fostering inclusivity, and seeking supportive healthcare providers, we can create a future where all LGBTQIA+ individuals thrive with dignity, acceptance, and holistic well-being.

Remember, Pride Month is not just about celebration; it’s about advocating for comprehensive healthcare, acceptance, and equality for all. Together, we can create a world where LGBTQ+ individuals thrive in every aspect of their lives.

Happy Pride Month!

Note: It’s important to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or pelvic floor therapist for personalized advice and treatment.

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