When the PT Becomes the Patient - Dr. Becky's Journey into Women's HealthDec 19, 2022
Author: Dr. Becky Word PT, DPT
My journey as a pelvic floor physical therapist officially began in 2017, about 1 year after the birth of my first child. But if I’m really being honest, I was interested in the field from the moment I first learned about it in PT school. Whenever someone mentioned leaking urine or experiencing pain with sex, you’d hear me yell, “You know you can get PT for that!” When I began experiencing pain in the pelvic girdle with running during my second trimester of pregnancy, I was certain I could get help.
Or so I thought…
I started googling (as most of us do) how to help myself, and quickly discovered the information available online was contradictory, confusing, and frankly quite scary. I was left with the fear of “one wrong move and you will cause irreversible damage.” As a result, I ended up stopping exercise altogether. Fast forward to postpartum and I was experiencing many common postpartum symptoms: urinary leakage, abdominal muscle separation (Diastasis recti) and pelvic organ prolapse. Again, I was met with less than helpful information online, and decided it was time for the physical therapist to become the patient.
I asked my doctor for a referral to pelvic floor PT and thought for certain it would be easy from there. I was shocked as I started calling the few offices from the list she had provided, only to discover each clinic had a months-long waitlist. While I did finally receive care, and was able to get back to running eventually, I was left with the realization that most women are not getting the care they need to address pelvic floor dysfunction.
If I, as a physical therapist, could not decipher the information available or access a PT in a timely manner, how is anyone else expected to do it?
That’s when I decided it was time for me to join the movement of improving women’s healthcare. I took my first course and never looked back! Now that I have been treating the pelvic floor for several years, I realize that the heart of the issue is that the treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction is unique to each individual. Trying to self-treat with information available on the internet is just not going to cut it. It is important to have a pelvic floor physical therapist who can spend time with you and teach you WHY you may be experiencing some of these symptoms. There is so much women do not know about their bodies. Understanding the body and how it functions is the first step to treating it effectively.
There is still so much work to be done in providing quality information and access to care for all women, but I have truly found joy in making this my life’s work. Sitting with patients as they have “lightbulb” moments after years of struggling makes it all worth it.