5 practical ways to help you relieve your chronic pelvic pain, tension and digestive issues
If there’s anything I’ve learned about chronic pelvic pain, it’s that it’s a multifactorial health issue.
No matter how many medical professionals dismissed your symptoms making you feel frustrated, that pain is real, it’s not in your head.
Chronic pelvic pain is defined as cyclical or non-cyclical pain of at least 6 months duration.
The root-causes of that pain vary greatly.
Conventional medicine has failed to understand and treat chronic pelvic pain, therefore we need to address it through a multi-disciplinary, personalised approach if we want to have significant results.
While there’s no one cure for it, it can be treated and it’s possible to work towards a pain-free life.
Each person will experience chronic pelvic pain in a different way and the pain you experience is not directly proportional to the severity of your condition. Pain science is a fascinating and complex topic so I will link to an informative article here.
Pain relieve is multifaceted. It involves physical, emotional and mental factors and requires long-term commitment.
Research found that depression and anxiety symptoms were more prevalent among women with chronic pelvic pain compared to healthy groups.
While it is absolutely necessary that you get proper medical support to find out and treat structural, physical and functional causes for your chronic pelvic pain, I’ve seen some other key factors that can help you shift from constantly in pain to relieve your pain and even pain free.
Here are the 5 essential ways that can help you heal your chronic pelvic pain from a self-healing perspective
Pranayama (intentionally controlled breathing)
Pranayama consist in deliberately directing and controlling your breath so that energy can flow freely in your body.
Persistent or exaggerated stress response (often referred to as chronic stress) is a prolonged activation of the sympathetic and HPA axis system and it has an adverse effect on how we perceive pain.
Learning to calm down our autonomic nervous system by down-regulating our over-reacting sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, freeze response) and activating instead our parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest response) can bring back balance and reduce pain triggers.
This is where Pranayama comes into play.
Pranayama can help you relieve your chronic pelvic pain because:
-It makes you aware of the breathing patterns and channel the inhalation and exhalation using specific techniques that remove tension and irritation
-It reduces heart and respiratory rate and blood pressure therefore moving the balance towards the parasympathetic nervous system and quieting the HPA axis response to stress
-When you inhale and exhale in a slow, soft rhythm the respiratory diaphragm movements put a certain pressure on the vagus nerve which runs through the respiratory diaphragm. This in turns activates the parasympathetic nervous system
-Your mind has to be very attentive and focused. As you regulate your breath, you regulate your mind too. This in turn ensures your autonomic nervous system is less prone to drifting towards an excessive stress response, so that you don’t put more fuel to your pain experience
The philosophy of yoga teaches us that Pranayama uses specific breathing techniques of subtle inhalation and exhalation and breath retention to let the Prana (vital energy) flow effectively in our entire being, therefore energetically speaking you also remove obstacles that might keep the energy stagnating in your body.
As you see breath is a unique tool we have to indirectly activate our parasympathetic nervous system.
When skillfully practised, this yogic practice:
-Reduces heart and respiratory rate and blood pressure
-Balances the autonomic nervous system
-Relaxes your body completely
-Keeps your mind alert yet passive
-Allows you to restore energy
The best way to practise relaxation is in the yoga pose Savasana (corpse pose).
As you lie down in Savasana you scan your body like a scientist and look for muscular tension so that you can remove it.
When the physical body rests, you can actually start relaxing your mind too.
As you see conscious relaxation doesn’t have anything to do with crashing on the sofa, watching movies or scrolling social media. We all had a good dose of that and felt drained thereafter.
Conscious relaxation is actively relaxing your entire being starting from your outer, physical body to all your body systems to your mind.
I am sure you heard the phrase “let go” used in this circumstance. You might have thought “Are you kidding? I am in so much pain, how am I supposed to let go when I have to hold on for dear life??”
I invite you to lie down in Savasana and shift from the “I am this pain” to the “I see this pain” perspective.
I suggest you practice Savasana daily for 10 minutes and take notes of your physical, mental, emotional state before and after the practice. With constant practice you will be surprised at how much you can actually let go.
I experienced myself how hard it is to even think about doing any kind of body activity when you are in pain and you only feel like curling up in fetal position until pain decreases ever so slightly so that you feel a bit more like yourself again.
That said, I also know as a fact that mindful movement can create a vast improvement.
I am not suggesting you hit the gym in the middle of a severe pelvic pain episode but I am inviting you to incorporate mindful movement into your daily routine within your long-term plan for a pain-free life.
Sometimes you just have to take action.
I suggest you practice yoga asanas (yoga postures) to help you relieve your chronic pelvic pain.
Yoga asanas are a series of mindful bodily movements that make your entire body (mind included) healthy, strong and vibrant.
They can be modified depending on one’s needs and ailments and have proved to decrease pain intensity and improve quality of life in people suffering from chronic pelvic pain.
Some yoga asanas that can help you relieve your chronic pelvic pain follow in these categories:
-Supported standing asanas
-Supported back bending asanas
Now you might think I am joking… but do you know that your vocal cords and vagina are anatomically very similar and connected via the vagus nerve?
Some research suggests that the floor of the mouth too has a diaphragmatic muscle same as the pelvic floor supporting the pelvic organs. These muscles should move in synchrony with your respiratory diaphragm.
When you use your voice and sing low tone, humming and low vibratory sounds you stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, so more balancing signals to your autonomic nervous system.
I suggest you experiment chanting Mantras as this practice holds many benefits.
Mantras are sounds, words or phrases recited out loud or silently to quiet and focus the mind.
Research has shown that this ancient practice helps to:
-oxygenate the brain
-reduce heart rate
-reduce blood pressure
-create calm brainwave activity
All these benefits contribute to a calmer nervous system and greater resilience to stress factors.
Whether it be your baby’s favorite lullaby, your most loved song from your teenagers years or a AUM sound, I invite you to give it a try.
At first it might feel uncomfortable. Most of the times you are just not used to express yourself, feel heard, take up space but I promise it will have a positive impact.
Improve sleep quality
Getting sufficient, uninterrupted sleep each nigh is paramount for your chronic pelvic pain recovery.
All the above will certainly contribute to good quality sleep but you want to make sure you establish a healthy sleep routine too.
Which starts from sunshine.
-Make sure you spend 30 to 60 minutes minimum outdoor each day, without sun glasses
-Switch off all electronic devices at least 2 hours before going to bed and maintain low lighting
-Go to bed by 10 pm
-Sleep in a dark room
-Leave your phone outside your bedroom
I truly hope these self-healing tools will contribute to relieve your chronic pelvic pain too.
Now pick up the one practice that speaks to you the most and implement it today. Be consistent, you know you are in for the long ride. Then experiment all of them one by one and see what works best for you.
Remember this is not medical advice but information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure. Please talk to your doctor before making any health-related decision.