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Causes of Bladder Pain Part 1

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:07:48 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Bladder pain: what could be behind it?

Pain in the bladder can be downright distressing. Like all ‘’organ’’ pain, it is compounded by the anxiety associated with ‘’something being wrong’’ with an important body system.

There is a range of experience of bladder pain. Some aspects include:

-Pain when passing urine

-Pain that feels like it’s coming from your bladder, which increases as your bladder gets fills up

-An ongoing discomfort with urge; a feeling of constantly needing to go to the toilet, which doesn’t really ease when you go

So what are some of the possibilities when your bladder hurts?

Urinary tract infection.

The good old UTI is probably the most common cause of pain in the bladder, and usually is accompanied by a ‘’triad’’ of symptoms: frequency (going to the toilet more often, often for only small amounts), urgency (a feeling that you can’t put off the urge and have to rush to the toilet) and dysuria (pain with passing urine, usually worse at the end of the stream). Sometimes the body can fight this off, especially if you alkalise the urine with Ural or bicarbonate of soda, but if symptoms persist, it’s important to get to a doctor who can do a dipstick to check for white blood cells and send it off for culture. You will most likely need antibiotics. It is critical that the infection does not reach the kidneys, as this can cause long-term damage. You should always act quickly, particularly if you have a fever.

Stones.

Bladder stones are made up of minerals and proteins in the urine. Sometimes bladder stones can remain in the bladder with no symptoms. However, passing stones is normally (but not always) extraordinarily painful. A dipstick test with the doctor will show up blood in the urine (which may not be visible to the naked eye). An X-ray can show up some types of stones (calcium oxalate, but not uric acid stones), or a cystoscopy (camera in the bladder) may be necessary to diagnose them. They normally occur in older people or people who have become dehydrated.

Vaginal infection.

Sometimes, an infection in the vagina (bacterial or yeast infection) can cause pain in what feels like the bladder; it is also possible to have pain when passing urine, as the urethra (bladder tube) can be inflamed (this is called urethritis). Especially if your symptoms are not the ‘’classic triad’’ and don’t show up as a urinary tract infection on a culture, it is important to have a vaginal swab to rule out vaginal infection. It is important to consider chlamydia, an extremely common sexually transmitted infection, which in some women causes no symptoms at first, but can cause pain with passing urine.

That's just the beginning - watch this space in the next few days for some more causes of bladder pain and arm yourself with information!

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Causes of Bladder Pain Part 2

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:07:30 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

What Else Could Be Behind Your Bladder Pain?

This is Part Two - so make sure you scroll down to the post below to get the full story on possible causes of bladder pain!

Cancer.

Let’s get this one out of the way! While bladder cancer or a bladder tumour, is an uncommon cause of bladder pain, especially in younger people, it is important to be ruled out. It is always important to identify the cause of blood in the urine, either macroscopic (meaning visible to the naked eye) or microscopic (meaning it shows up on a dipstick test).

Obstruction.

If the urethra (bladder tube) gets blocked, the bladder can overfill and become distended like a balloon, and cause pain. Obstruction may occur for many reasons, including prostate enlargement in men, bladder stones, tumours, scar tissue, or bladder prolapse in women. It is uncommon in women, and would occur with the symptom of difficulty emptying the bladder or a change to the urine stream.

Incomplete bladder emptying.

If the bladder does not empty completely it is possible for the bladder to overfill and cause pain, as in obstruction. This could occur with damage to sensory nerves of the bladder, such as with gynaecological surgery or a traumatic childbirth. There is also a rare condition in young women known as Fowler’s Syndrome, where the urethra (bladder tube) does not relax properly when trying to pass urine, leading to urinary retention.

Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome.

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS) or bladder pain syndrome (BPS). It is a condition causing pain (or pressure or discomfort) associated with the bladder, usually worse as the bladder is filling, and relieved to some degree with passing urine. It is a chronic condition (present for at least 6 weeks) where a urinary tract infection has been clearly ruled out. A dipstick test may show blood in the urine. A cystoscopy will normally show bleeding wounds in the wall of the bladder called ‘’glomerulations’’ or petechial haemorrhages. However, it is possible to have PBS without this classic sign of IC. Antibiotics will not change the symptoms.

Endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium, or uterine lining, grows abnormally in places that it shouldn’t, such as the bowel, the bladder and the pelvic cavity. Endometriosis often causes pelvic pain, usually exacerbated during menstruation. Sometimes the pain can feel specific to the bladder. With bladder endometriosis, a dipstick test may show pyuria (pus or white blood cells) in the urine, but a culture for a urinary tract infection will be negative. Antibiotics will not change the symptoms.

A Final Message About Bladder Pain

Bladder can be acute and self-limiting (meaning that it is related to clear cause and resolves predictably) or it can be chronic, where the cause is more difficult to find. When it persists for a period of weeks or months, it takes on the characteristics common to chronic pain, such as neurogenic inflammation and central sensitisation. Recurrent urinary tract infections are another issue that need expert help to resolve. Here at Equilibria, we have the expertise to help you solve these problems once and for all.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Coccydynia: The Can't Sit Down Syndrome

Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 6:13:20 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Tailbone Pain and What Can Be Done About It

Can’t sit down without pain? You don’t realise how disabling this is until it happens to you.

Tailbone pain, or coccydynia (also called coccygodynia) refers to pain felt in the area of the tailbone – that is, right where you sit! It is almost always due to a trauma: a fall on the bottom while ice skating, rollerblading or skiing, and childbirth being some of the most common traumatic incidents I see.

Coccydynia after childbirth is terribly difficult to deal with – not least because you are trying to focus on getting the feeding right, and if you can’t sit because of pain, this is almost impossible.  Tailbone pain is more likely to occur with difficult deliveries, use of forceps, and use of the vacuum. Subluxation of the coccyx (i.e. the tailbone being moved out of position) is the most common cause of pain, but fracture is possible (albeit rare).

coccydynia

So what can you do about it?

Well, the obvious thing (that you have figured out already!) is to get off it – to reduce the pressure as much as possible.  Lying on your stomach is ideal. Sitting backwards on a chair (i.e. straddling the chair) and leaning forward into a pillow resting on the back of the chair can be a lifesaver. Doughnut cushions are controversial; I rarely recommend them, as in the postpartum period, they can increase the pooling of swelling at the perineum and make the whole area even more sore.

So how do you fix it?

I hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but to fix coccydynia – that is, to really get rid of the coccyx pain and not let it linger on long-term – the best form of treatment is manual therapy. Unfortunately, the best way of accessing the coccyx is via a rectal examination. This sounds awful, but most people I see with tailbone pain get over the potential embarrassment quickly because they are so keen to get rid of the pain. It is easy to gently mobilise the coccyx during a gentle rectal examination, and to treat the tailbone muscles, which are usually in spasm.

Most sufferers of this debilitating condition are very glad they go ahead and have this form of treatment. It often only takes one to two sessions to dramatically improve things. It can be effective surprisingly quickly with people who have suffered from tailbone pain for a long time as well. I frequently see women who have had the pain for ten years, who are so glad to know that something can be done.

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Of course, it is important that you see a practitioner who is licensed to perform these examinations, and also skilled and experienced in the area. This is a service we provide at Equilibria.

As a postscript, I must add that a former patient of mine swears by a supplement I gave her for her tailbone pain! I will leave the last word to her:

''I have nearly run out of the supplement you have given me, and they have been an absolute treasure for me, when I get the pain in my Coccyx,

which I might add is not very often these days, but I would not like to be without them.'' (Mrs G, age 59).

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Tampon troubles...why they hurt or won't go in

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:01:03 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Problems with using tampons?

This is more common than you might think! Many women choose not to use them. They may find tampons difficult to use at the outset, when they first start using them, or problems may develop even when they used to find tampons fine to use before.

To work out likely causes of the problem – and therefore the solutions – we need to look at the main symptoms.

Problem: I can’t get the tampon to go in!

Many young women, when they first start using tampons, find that getting them in is not as simple as it seems in the instructions in the tampon packet! You might find you try every position they recommend: sitting on the toilet seat, standing with one leg up on the toilet seat, or lying down, and nothing seems to make a difference. You start wondering whether you are trying to put it in the right place…if only there was a map of the territory!

Solutions:

Study a map of the area – that is, a lifelike picture or photograph of the vulva! These are available in wonderful educational books such as The V Book and A New View of A Woman’s Body. Even better, take a closer look at the actual territory in question: use a large hand mirror to have a look at your own vulva! (Alternatively, lying in front of the mirror door of your wardrobe works well.) This may sound very ''1970s women's liberation'', but believe it or not, the feminists started encouraging women to do this for a good reason! If you don’t know what your vulva looks like, how are you going to know what’s normal for you? Finally, you need to investigate the territory. Have a look and see where the vaginal opening is. Experiment with gently inserting your finger. If you can insert your finger, you know where you’re going when you start to use tampons.

Problem: I know where my vagina is, but it just plain hurts to put the tampon in!

This is incredibly common in the women I see. I see women of all ages who describe how, when they first started to use tampons, it was painful and difficult. Some of them never persisted because they were so put off by this. Don’t worry! You’re not alone. If you do find it hurts, you probably have what is known as ‘’high-tone pelvic floor muscles’’. This means your pelvic floor muscles are too tense at rest, in the same way as someone working on the computer too much has high-tone neck and shoulder muscles. This makes them sore, tight and tense. No wonder the tampon won’t go in!

Solution:

Sometimes pushing your tummy out gently when you try to push it in will help. But if it doesn’t, don’t push it! You would benefit from seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist specialising in pelvic floor pain. (This is our forte here at Equilibria!) You may have what is known as vaginismus, which is spasm of the pelvic floor muscles. This has many causes and you need the help and guidance of an expert.

Watch this space for Part II: When tampons won’t stay in.

Difficulties using tampons is a very common symptom I encounter in women I see. Make an appointment with me at Equilibria if this is a problem for you.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Stinging After Sex

Posted: Friday, January 9, 2015 at 8:51:00 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

That smarting, chafing feeling…what does it mean?

It really has a way of putting a dampener on things when you get stinging and discomfort after sex. After it’s all over, the vaginal entrance feels tender and irritated. It’s often worse when you go to the toilet to do a pee after sex. What does it mean, and what can be done about it?

A 2008 study for the Journal of Sexual and Marital Therapy looked at this very issue. The authors described  conversations with 24 women about pain after sex. All the women experienced stinging after sex, which they described as a burning or smarting pain. 70% of them had pain with passing urine after sex. Sometimes this will be a spontaneous stinging feeling, and sometimes it will be stinging on the toilet when peeing after sex.

stingingontoilet

So who were these women? They were all women with either (or both) vaginismus and vulvodynia. With all of them, their symptoms had started off as pain after sex (usually for around 2 hours). As time went on, they started having pain during sex (which they described as a ripping or cutting pain). Many of them eventually stopped having sex because it was too painful.

Painful sex is incredibly common. Vaginismus and vulvodynia (or provoked vestibulodynia) are conditions that may be present if you have pain with sex. Most importantly, don’t ignore the early warning signs! It is not normal for there to be stinging or burning after sex, with or without doing a pee. It is also not normal to have painful intercourse (known as dyspareunia).

If you are wondering whether you might have vulvodynia, try my quick Vulvodynia Self-Test. It's a super-quick questionnaire you can do here.

While much can be done to help vaginismus and vulvodynia, getting in early is even better. Don’t sit around hoping it will get better on its own. Seek help from an expert in vaginismus and vulvodynia.

Here at Equilibria, helping women with vaginismus and vulvodynia is what we do – day in and day out! So if you suspect you might have a problem, simply give us a call or drop us an e-mail.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Ovulation Pain or Mittelschmerz

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:00:22 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

 Can you feel when you're ovulating?

That niggling pain is back again, low down in the left of your lower abdomen. It’d be nice to just sit down and put your legs up, but you’ve got to keep working.  That time of month again – no, you’re not due for your period for another two weeks! This is mid-cycle pain. Not only do you get period pain, but you’re hassled in the middle of the month by more pain! Why?

That cyclic stabbing pain in one side of the lower abdomen that some women experience is known as ‘’Mittelschmerz’’ (meaning middle pain) or ovulation pain. It is typically described as occurring at mid-cycle. However, this is dependent on the length of the cycle. It would be more accurate to say it occurs approximately 2 weeks before the menstrual period – that is, at the time of ovulation.

Ovulation pain tends to switch sides from month to month (depending on which ovary you are ovulating from, obviously). For most women it lasts a few hours or less – just enough to let them know they are ovulating. For some women, it lasts for more days. And for some very unlucky women, it is severe and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea or even vomiting.

The precise cause of Mittelschmerz is uncertain. It may be due to the enlargement of the follicle before the egg bursts forth in ovulation, or the rupture of the follicle itself, with the spilling of its contents into the surrounding tissue. Whatever it is, if it is anything more than a minor nuisance, you may want to have it looked into.

Severe Mittelschmerz is often due to endometriosis, a condition where the inner lining of the uterus (the endometrium) ends up implanted in places it shouldn’t be. Endometriosis can only be definitively diagnosed with a laparoscopy – a relatively invasive procedure. Women with endometriosis usually have painful and heavy periods as well, and sometimes pelvic or abdominal pain at other times of the month. This can imitate irritable bowel syndrome.

In my experience, cyclical abdominal or pelvic pain is more likely to occur when there are ‘’tissue restrictions’’ around the organs involved (in this case, the ovary, fallopian tube and uterus). For example, endometriosis causes adhesions (scarring) within the tissue which causes it to tighten up and be less flexible. As your pelvic organs contain smooth muscle and are designed to be very mobile, these restrictions can result in you feeling things you shouldn’t (such as pain) – or feeling sensations more strongly than necessary. Tissue restrictions that can be palpated by an experienced physiotherapist are certainly present where there is endometriosis, but many women I see with these problems do not have a diagnosis of endometriosis (yet, anyway).  In my experience, ovulation pain, period pain and other pelvic or abdominal pains can be successfully treated by gently easing these tissue restrictions. This involves a form of tissue release known as visceral manipulation, or visceral-specific myofascial release. Visceral manipulation is very gentle and performed through the abdomen by a physiotherapist who has trained specifically in this technique. It can provide relief within just a few sessions.

Contact us for an assessment using this approach and possible visceral manipulation treatment, or just to make an enquiry.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Chronic Pain - Do You Really Get It?

Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 7:07:16 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

You step on a thumbtack, and yow! – your body pulls your foot back faster than you know what hit you.

You accidentally touch that hot plate, and eeek! – you’ve pulled your hand back off it in the blink of an eye.

‘’Pain is the message your body part sends your brain when your body part is being damaged’’…right?

WRONG. This is a huge misunderstanding of pain, especially the area of chronic pain or persistent pain. It is a big mistake to make. If you misunderstand your pain, it can actually impede your recovery.

So what is pain, then, actually? Pain is what is PRODUCED by your brain and nerves (your central nervous system, or CNS) in response to a THREAT to the body tissues. That’s right, a THREAT. It does not have to be real or true damage. In fact, in chronic pain, it rarely is. Instead, your brain senses the body is in danger, and responds accordingly. It actually puts together an individualised pattern of pain in order to protect you from this potential threat. Believe it or not, this is what modern neuroscience research teaches us!

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Of course if you have persistent pain, it is very important to have all the appropriate investigations done to rule out (or at least tease out) any causes directly related to tissue damage. If nothing can be found – or if pain is out of proportion to what would be expected for the specific tissue damage – then you can be sure that your central nervous system (CNS) is playing a big role in maintaining your pain.

The complex pattern of pain that your CNS puts together can involve a contribution from multiple systems in your body. As well as pain, you might have emotional or psychological changes (anxiety or depression), muscular changes (tense, sore muscles that are bracing you to deal with your pain, or run away from it) circulation changes (heat or cold in the sore area), tissue changes (weak or fragile skin in the painful area) and hormonal changes, which can affect your energy, sleep and the health of your whole body. All of this put together is like a big personalised puzzle of pain! Putting together the different parts of the puzzle is very important in overcoming the persistent pain.

In summary, persistent pain (or chronic pain) is complex but enormously changeable. In order to solve the puzzle of your persistent pain, you need to be able to put the pieces of the puzzle together, and bit by bit, see the picture clearly. Retraining the brain is an important part of resolving chronic pain; retraining the brain in chronic pain in the vulva and pelvis is a particular focus of mine as a clinician.

If you experience persistent pain – regardless of the cause – you need to address the central nervous system. You may benefit from a physiotherapy session dedicated to learning about pain and what causes it to persist – and how you can change this. When you book in for an appointment, mention you are wanting ‘’pain education’’ – and if you can, bring your loved one with you, so they can understand your pain as well. If you are a female and pain is somewhere in the pelvis, you can also start work on retraining your brain by using my e-book Outsmart Your Pain.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Painful Sex and the Older Woman

Posted: Friday, January 9, 2015 at 8:52:09 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Sex: whether talking about it, thinking about it, or doing it, it often seems as though our society is obsessed. But if you paid attention to how sex is depicted in our society, you could be forgiven for thinking it is only the young and beautiful doing it! The reality is that sex is part of life for the majority – including older women. And when a potentially rewarding aspect of life is not working well, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

Older women (in this post, meaning women after menopause) may experience changes in aspects of their sexual life. In particular, a natural decline in oestrogen can promote a thinning and ‘’shrinking’’ of the vagina and external genitals, known as ‘’urogenital atrophy’’ or ''vaginal atrophy''. This often leads to vaginal symptoms such as dryness, itching, pain with passing urine and pain with sex (although the latter can have more serious causes too, and should be checked by your doctor). An interesting survey run on menopausal women in the United States revealed the following:

  • 22% of women felt uncomfortable with discussing this issue with their partners
  • 57% of women avoided intimacy because of sexual discomfort and 31% of women stopped having sex altogether
  • 64% of women found sex painful and 30% found sex less satisfying due to discomfort
  • 65% of women reported a loss of libido
  • 35% of women no longer felt sexually attractive due to vaginal discomfort
  • 39% of men and women thought the effect of menopause on their sexual relationship was worse than expected.

This shows a pretty significant impact!

(Now - before I go on - I need to make the point that we should not jump to conclusions about the cause. While vaginal atrophy is the most common cause in this age group, other causes to consider include vulvodynia and vestibulodynia, and also vaginismus. All of these conditions are treated every day here at Equilibria). If you want to get an idea whether you could have vulvodynia, try my quick questionnaire here.

The researchers made the point that the major treatment for vaginal atrophy (a main cause of painful sex after menopause) is vaginal oestrogen cream or pessaries. Less than one-third of women with these symptoms used such a cream or pessary! Of those who did, over half found that it reduced pain with intercourse. Although figures are not known for Australian women, it is a point worth thinking about. A simple treatment for this is available and reasonably effective: vaginal oestrogen.

And why not just use vaginal lubricants? While I am a big proponent for vaginal lubricants and moisturisers (and stock the best available here at the practice) they do not address the underlying changes in vaginal atrophy (loss of surface cells, a change to a more alkaline pH, and shrinking of the vagina). Some women will do well with lubricants or moisturisers in conjunction with pelvic floor physiotherapy if there have been changes to muscle function. Some women, however, will notice better improvements through the use of vaginal oestrogen. Make this a starting point for discussion with your doctor.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

A Draining Problem: Heavy Periods

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 7:57:38 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Anyone who experiences heavy menstrual periods knows how draining this can be.

Heavy bleeding, sometimes known as menorrhagia, is present in at least 15% of women.  Amazingly, most women just accept it as part of being a woman, and never do anything about it.

Were you put on the Pill for this?

The number of women who were ‘’put on the Pill’’ as young girls due to ‘’heavy periods’’- but without adequate medical investigation - continues to astound me. The Pill is not the out-and-out answer to heavy periods by any means. Because the Pill eliminates your body’s own natural hormonal cycles, any effect it has on reducing the heaviness of your periods is purely a ‘’Band-Aid effect’’. This is not to say that there is not a time and place for it! Unfortunately, however, it is used as a ‘’knee-jerk’’ reaction to heavy periods far too often, and risks and side-effects are sometimes not adequately weighed up. Heavy bleeding during your period can have many different causes, and it’s always important to have it investigated medically.

Just some of the potential causes of heavy bleeding include the following:

  • Growths, either benign or cancerous;
  • Endometriosis;
  • Clotting disorders, such as von Willebrand’s diseae;
  • Medications;
  • Thyroid dysfunction

Guess what two of the effects of heavy periods can be?

The first is easy - low iron (from all that blood loss). This can cause countless problems including exhaustion. The second is cruel: more heavy periods. This is because low iron itself can promote heavy periods! What a crazy vicious cycle.

Endometriosis deserves a special mention here.

Diagnosis of endometriosis can only occur via a surgical procedure. However, you may wish to fill out this quick self-test to see what your chances of having endometriosis might be.

Take care with treatment.

Treatment – whether you choose conventional medical, natural therapies, or a combination – should ALWAYS depend on the likely cause, so be wary of anyone – doctor or otherwise – who tries to institute a treatment without having tried to determine the likely cause.

Charting your cycles can be a great way to start tracking what is happening. This should be more detailed than just recording the days of your period. Learning the Billings Ovulation Method is a great technique for gaining insight into your reproductive health. This is also terrific if you are aiming to get off the Pill.

For a systematic method of approaching and helping heavy periods, get in touch with us at Equilibria.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

A Pain Up the Backside: Proctalgia Fugax Explained

Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 at 5:25:34 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

‘’A knife-like pain in the rectum’’...

’’A red-hot poker up the bum’’…

’’A feeling of being stabbed in the anus, which takes my breath away’’…

These are just some of the descriptions that my patients suffering from proctalgia fugax give.

Somewhat surprisingly for something so unpleasant, proctalgia fugax has a pretty straightforward cause.

It’s simply a matter of the anal muscles (part of the pelvic floor muscles) going into sudden spasm. In that way it is very similar to a leg cramp, foot cramp or toe cramp that you might get in bed at night. Not so coincidentally, this is often when episodes of proctalgia fugax occur – at night. Sufferers are often sleeping soundly before they are suddenly woken by an intense pain in the rectum, where all they can do is lie completely still and attempt to breathe while they wait for it to subside. Pain relief rarely helps. It’s simply a matter of waiting until the spasm relaxes. This may take a few seconds or minutes, or up to two hours.

However, night is by no means the only time that proctalgia fugax episodes occur. It is very common to be suddenly gripped by a painful spasm while going about your daily business.

Proctalgia fugax occurs because the external anal sphincter muscle, which surrounds the anus like an elastic ring or short tube, is ‘’overactive’’. It may be that you pull in the muscle unknowingly during the day, such as when you are stressed or emotional, and the fibres of the muscle shorten. When magnesium levels drop, as they do at night, you become prone to any sort of muscle cramp or spasm – including proctalgia fugax. It is common for proctalgia fugax to occur in people who are also prone to anal fissures, constipation, tailbone pain, irritable bowel syndrome chronic pelvic pain and painful sex. (At Equilibria, we not only treat the proctalgia fugax, but explain the links with these other conditions and treat them as well.)

Many people experience a one-off episode of proctalgia fugax in their life. Because it is so distressing, if it happens more than once within the space of a few months, it should really be treated – especially because it is usually exceptionally easy to treat. Treatment involves gentle stretching of the muscles, either via the vagina or anus. Sometimes malalignment in the sacro-iliac joints is contributing and treatment dramatically reduces tendency for attacks to return.

Additionally, magnesium can not only help the muscles ‘’normalise their behaviour’’, but the right form of magnesium taken at the time of an attack can often get rid of the pain almost immediately. (interestingly, magnesium issues can also be related to bladder problems).

Recognise these symptoms? Get in touch with us today for rapid and successful treatment.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

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