7 Unique Self-Care Tools For Women Living With Chronic Pelvic Pain
By Sarah Elspeth
IC Warrior, Psychotherapist, Nutrition and Health Coach
I get it; chronic pelvic pain sucks. I’ve been living with chronic pelvic pain for three years and it took me a long time to find the proper methods for pain management. After much trial and error, I can confidently share with you the tools I have found to be most helpful in my chronic pelvic pain management.
1. Sitz Bath
A sitz bath for the toilet is a soothing method for managing pelvic pain. This handy device is a shallow bath that you fill with warm water and place directly over the toilet bowl. Most sitz baths fit standard toilets, and you simply sit and allow the warm water to calm down the vulva area. Epsom salt can be added for a more therapeutic experience, and to further decrease pain. The sitz bath can help minimize pain in many pelvic-related conditions, including:
- Urge incontinence
- Interstitial Cystitis/Bladder Pain Syndrome
- Pelvic floor dysfunction
- Constipation (can greatly aggravate pelvic conditions)
Sitz baths are cheap, easy to use and provide soothing comfort. As soon as I feel my symptoms kicking in, I run straight to the bathroom and get the sitz bath ready.
2. Weighted Blanket
Ahhh…the weighted blanket is one of my more indulgent self-care tips for pelvic pain. I discovered that these miracle blankets help with pelvic pain by accident. Originally the intent behind using this cozy blanket was to help minimize the symptoms of anxiety. After using it for a few days, I realized it also helps decrease pain. It may be that lowering anxiety also reduces discomfort in the body. This can be explained by understanding how anxiety creates hypersensitivity to pain. In recognizing this connection, it can be seen that using a weighted blanket to manage anxiety would also minimize soreness. When you’re suffering from chronic pain, your number one goal is to decrease pain. Weighted blankets can help us achieve this by bringing a sense of calm and relaxation. A great practice is to get under your weighted blanket and do some deep mindful breathing. This can be an incredibly peaceful daily practice when living with a pelvic pain condition. Along with decreasing pain, your blanket may help ease stress and reduce cortisol.
3. Tens Unit
Two years ago, I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis. The pain I was in that first year was devastating. There is no way that I could have gotten through that year without my Tens Unit.
The Tens Unit is a commonly used device for treating pelvic pain. The most incredible feature of this handy unit is it’s a portable, noninvasive, and nonaddictive form of pain relief. A Tens is a battery-operated device that sends electrical impulses through electrodes attached to adhesive pads on your skin. These pads are placed around the area of pain, so for pelvic pain, they are generally on the lower belly, inner thighs, and low back. It is easy to use, extremely safe, and, most importantly, effective for pain management. On the days when I am in a bad flare, I reach for my Tens Unit.
4. Yoga Bolster
A daily self-care program is how I’ve been able to bring my pelvic pain down to a manageable level (most days). One vital tool for this daily regime is my yoga bolster. The bolster is incredibly useful in therapeutic yoga and other styles to facilitate the deepening of postures. I do one reclined position on the bolster every day and then switch over to my belly. These postures include:
I spend 5-10 minutes in each posture while practicing deep breathing. This is a deeply calming and rejuvenating practice to help with chronic pelvic pain. You can also practice these in moments of acute pain when your goal is to bring your pain down.
5. Pelvic Wand
The number one game-changer for me regarding my pain management came in the guise of an unassuming tool called a pelvic wand. A pelvic floor physiotherapist introduced me to this handy instrument, and I’ve used it since. If the defining feature of your pelvic pain is pelvic floor dysfunction, then you will find the wand an invaluable addition to your pain management. The purpose of the wand is to provide a gentle pressure point massage for your sore internal muscles. Gently placing the wand against specific painful points allows the muscles to release and relax. This effectively decreases pain and discomfort while having complete control over the amount of pressure you use. The pelvic wand is also a tremendous preventative tool against flares. Just lie back on some pillows, get cozy and give yourself ten minutes a day for some light internal massage. It is also a strong ally in a horrible flare to help reduce the intensity of symptoms. All pelvic wands come with easy instructions, and once you get the hang of it, you’ll look forward to these relaxing self-care sessions. The wand is a must-have for your pain management toolbox.
6. Binaural Beats
Listening to soothing Binaural Beats has helped to decrease my stress, enhance my creativity, and, most importantly, reduce my chronic pelvic pain. Binaural Beats emit two tones at two different frequencies, which the brain interprets by hearing the difference between the two tones. This results in the brain being “tricked” by the beats. In response, it syncs the neural activity across the brain. This effect induces a state of peacefulness similar to the experience of meditation. This state of relaxation decreases stress and worry and, in turn, reduces the pain response. Listening to beats is a blissful way to minimize chronic pelvic pain. It can be done in your home, is cost-effective, and has no side effects. I invite you to stick on your headphones, lie back on the couch and lose yourself in some tranquil Binaural Beats. Your pelvis will thank you.
Grounding has become an imperative component of my daily pain management routine. This technique intends to reconnect you to the earth and realigns your electrical energy. Although there is little research on this method, several smaller studies have revealed that grounding improves inflammation, pain, muscle damage, and cardiovascular disease. There are many ways to ground yourself, including:
- Water: Wading into a lake, river, or ocean is a lovely and rejuvenating way to ground yourself
- Lying on the ground: Skin-to-skin contact with the sand, dirt, or grass is an effective way to ground your body and experience a deep sense of relaxation.
- Walking barefoot: The easiest and most accessible way to ground yourself is simply walking outside barefoot! Whether it’s dirt, mud, sand, or grass, as long as your bare skin is touching the natural ground surface, you will experience the amazing effects of grounding
- Grounding tools: If grounding outside isn’t an option for you, there are tools on the market including grounding mats, sheets, socks, bands, and metal rods
Grounding is a powerful method for reducing chronic pelvic pain. It can be done inside or outside, and you can reap the profound benefits through practicing just a few minutes a day.
Chronic pelvic pain can suck the life out of you, leaving you feeling lost, confused, and powerless. Pelvic pain is challenging to live with, and you need as many tools as possible to help minimize your symptoms and help you regain a sense of hope in your life. Incorporating these unique self-care techniques into your day can help you feel a sense of control and empowerment regarding your condition. These methods have been life-changing for me, and I know they can help you too.
Sarah Elspeth Is a Ph.D. Student, Registered Counselor, Health Coach, and Yoga & Meditation Teacher. She loves helping women heal from various health issues including chronic pain, anxiety, and autoimmune conditions. She addresses underlying issues and teaches life-changing tools so you can connect to joy, balance, and optimal health.