IN DEFENCE OF THE DOCTOR WHO DIDN’T TALK TO YOU ABOUT PELVIC HEALTH
Since transitioning full time to Pelvic Physiotherapy, the most common sentiment I’ve come across from the women I’ve assessed and treated is “this has been so helpful - why didn’t I know this existed?”
Indeed, once women learn a little more about the workings of their bodies and what happened anatomically during pregnancy, labour and childbirth, they have a proverbial lightbulb moment and think “well it’s no wonder I’m having symptoms – I’ve been doing so much that has been working against my body!” It’s a beautiful moment and it’s one that I can relate to – having experienced it myself after being a patient of Pelvic Physiotherapy.
In the continuum of care that currently exists for women, they are followed throughout their pregnancy by a GP, OBGYN or Midwife. They are also attended at their birth by this practitioner (or one of their colleagues), and then attend one 6 week check-up. At this 6 week check up, your care provider has about 6 minutes (the average time of a Doctor’s visit in Canada) to determine the following:
· Is the cervix closed? And the uterus healthy?
· Are C-section and/or perineal scars healed?
· Does this woman need breastfeeding support?
· Are there signs of postpartum depression?
· Does this woman require prescription contraception?
So, one piece of the puzzle is that Doctors don’t have the time to discuss Pelvic Health. They have a short period of time to cover a lot of material. Given this, unless you bring up the fact that you’re leaking, or that sex is painful, or that you’re feeling heaviness in your vagina or rectum, your Doc isn’t going to ask you if you’re struggling. In comparison, I spend about 60-80 minutes on a woman’s first appointment to discuss Pelvic Health.
Another piece of the puzzle is that Pelvic Health is not in your Doctor’s wheelhouse. We expect Doctors to know everything about everything. The truth is, though, that the generalists only know a little bit about everything and the specialists only know everything about one thing (only – haha).
One more piece of the puzzle is that lots of times, your male Doctor or your female Doctor who hasn’t had children won’t know the true experience of being a woman postpartum. They know what they’ve read in books but I think any Mother on the planet can stand with me on this one: the books aren’t telling the whole story.
When it comes to Pelvic Health, I’m still surprised by how few Doctors refer to Pelvic Physiotherapy but a part of me totally gets it. So what to do? Refer yourself! And refer every woman you know. Physiotherapy is direct access – meaning you can visit us without a referral. And we’re covered under extended health benefits. No brainer if you ask me!