When I first started seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist, I was very unsure. My physical therapist had a “Support Planned Parenthood” sticker on her laptop and told me she was a lapsed Catholic who believed that the Catholic Church had changed its position on masturbation (it hasn’t, for the record). I also had some significant trepidation at the actual activity involved in pelvic floor physical therapy; after all, I had years of trauma from the pain of (then still undiagnosed) endometriosis and people telling me that there was nothing they could do to help me. But, my symptoms were severe and interfering with my life. I needed to take care of this issue, especially before I got married and tried to have children. So, I stuck with it. And the results were life-changing.
It’s been several years, a successful endometriosis excision surgery, a wedding, and a healthy pregnancy and delivery since I last saw my pelvic floor physical therapist, but I frequently think back to how grateful I am to have experienced this physical therapy. I’ve also read and heard interviews with Catholic pelvic floor physical therapists and am grateful that some Catholic women have access to this crucial health care with providers whose values are similar to theirs. It’s made me reflect on what a Catholic perspective on pelvic floor physical therapy would be.
The Body Is Good
As Catholics, we believe that human beings consist of a body and soul—and that both body and soul are good. The body is broken (and the soul is prone to sin), but it is still good. As a result, we must treat our body—and others’ bodies—with the respect it is due. After all, God came to earth and had a human body (still does, according to the Church’s teaching on the ascension). We are made in his image and likeness.
Broadly speaking, our culture does not believe the body is good. It reveals how it feels about the body—particularly, I would argue, the female body—in the way it treats it. The human body is used, abused, commoditized, and shamed. Our culture rents out women’s wombs, tears children out of them, and exploits both genders in pornography to make a quick buck.
Pelvic floor physical therapy takes a different approach to a woman’s body—one that says it is worthy of respect and of healing. Our pelvic floor goes through a lot to nurture life, but so many of us have experienced such pain in this part of our body that the “fertility is beautiful!” line doesn’t resonate. With pelvic floor physical therapy, a woman can go from misunderstanding and fearing her body to respecting and loving it.
When Is Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy Helpful?
I am neither a medical provider nor a pelvic floor expert, so here is a discussion of pelvic floor physical therapy from someone who is: an episode of the Natural Womanhood podcast featuring pelvic floor physical therapist Dr. Jen Tippmann. According to Dr. Tippmann’s website, pelvic floor physical therapy can help with:
- Painful intercourse.
- Urinary and fecal incontinence.
- Pelvic organ prolapse.
- Pelvic floor muscle performance and core muscle stability.
- Pelvic pain.
- Prenatal and postpartum support.
If you think pelvic floor physical therapy might be good for you, I encourage you to ask your restorative reproductive health provider for a recommendation! Your body is worth it.