2020 certainly turned out to be a year unlike no other. I think I have heard my fair share of the term “unprecedented times” , how about you?
On a personal note, I have been struggling in more ways than one, to continue momentum in healing my pelvic pain and pelvic health in 2021. All due to the COVID set backs and anxiety which may be playing a role in an increase in flares and pain as we transition in 2021.
Despite this, I am remaining hopeful and optimistic looking forward into 2021.
I realize that there are still many hurdles I need to overcome before my life returns back to some form of “a new normal.”
I think you will agree with me when I say: It’s really hard managing pelvic pain (Endometriosis, Interstitial Cystitis, PFD, Pudendal Neuralgia etc.) to begin with, but even more difficult during a global pandemic!
Doctor offices and pain clinics are cutting hours or not seeing patients, ER’s are at maximum capacity, pelvic floor physical therapy offices may restrict services and surgical wait times are getting longer and longer.
Obviously, 2020 was one heck of a year. We learned a lot. Some good things, some bad, some totally unexpected (RIP Kobe.).
Even though last year had a lot of bad, let’s not give up hope for this year.
Hope is the power to believe that anything is possible — a fresh start, a second chance. It is stronger than fear and hope is what I want to carry into 2021.
With that being said, my goal for this post (and always) is to help you advocate for yourselves and give you actionable steps to taking control of your pelvic health in 2021.
This year, I am determined to keep playing my part in supporting you on this rocky journey with my blog posts, helpful resources and all our lovely interactions on Instagram or Facebook.
So, let’s travel, step-by-step, through how you can take control of your pelvic health in 2021.
1. Set a goal + stay organized to take control of your pelvic health in 2021
Set a Goal: We all have different needs. Do you need to find a new specialist to narrow down a root cause to your pain? Or do you desperately need to get your pain under control? Writing it down somewhere will motivate you and give you something to strive for this year. This is so powerful if you’re in a low place with your health at the moment and you need some extra motivation.
Stay Organized: Nothing is worse than when your specialist doesn’t receive the most recent reports so the appointment or process becomes twice as long. When you’re in pain, the last thing you want to do is wait any longer than you have to. Creating a medical binder can help you keep track of your results (always ask for copies!) and questions that can help curb some of your anxiety.
Consider the benefits of having a medical binder:
- Saves you time. If you are ever in a situation where a very thorough history is needed, you have the data already collected without having to think or frantically look through paperwork or online portals.
- Saves you from frustration and constant guessing of trying to figure out what’s working and what’s not. A health planner/journal is going to help you track your symptoms and pain. The same goes for any time you introduce a new medication or a new supplement.
- Saves you money. To the point above – you will no longer spend your money on supplements that don’t work or food you shouldn’t eat.
- Helps you discover patterns or periods of high stress and how your behaviour, lifestyle, and/or diet change as a result.
- Keeps you accountable and help you stay on track with any of your health or wellness goals.
I designed and created a Printable Medical Binder/Planner to help keep track of my medical information, appointments and tests. This really helps me stay organized and track my symptoms and progress.
Receive 25% OFF when you download The Ultimate Vulvodynia and Pelvic Pain Resource Guide
2. Gain hope with a community or support group
Through this global pandemic, support has been more integral due to additional isolation but may be a lot more difficult to come by.
This is where online support groups can help. Support groups can bring an overwhelming sense of relief. It can be the very first time in your life that you will meet others that have the same pain, concerns, situations and are there to help and encourage you.
A support group can help you:
Gain hope: Meeting others in the group who are further in their recovery and who are living happier and healthier lives gives members hope and confidence.
Learn: Practical tips and resources are shared and members share their success stories and the strategies that helped them day to day.
Increase social interaction: Chronic pain has contributed to withdrawal from social situations (only to be amplified by the pandemic) and support groups provide a safe place to become comfortable around others again, even if it is online.
As individuals living with chronic pelvic pain, we are no strangers to depression and other mental health conditions, and throwing a global pandemic on top of that means even more mental health support is needed for so many of us. If you or someone you know is in crisis there is no shame, and there are resources available.
3. Explore and research pelvic pain treatment and management.
Don’t jump into a treatment you know absolutely nothing about.
Instead, tell your doctor you would like to think about it first.
Then ask for:
- The patient information leaflet (if it is a pharmaceutical or device) as well as any documentation that tells you the risks and benefits
- A list of side effects your doctor has seen with other patients
- The benefits your doctor has observed while treating other patients
- A list of other options
I say this because I have heard from many patients suffering, who have done too many Hydrodistention’s on their bladder because their doctor told them it was going to “cure their Interstitial Cystitis” and now there is irreversible damage due to the doctors neglect or lack of skill.
Always ask about the pro’s and con’s of any treatment. Your body, your choice.
4. Save time and get pelvic health information in one place with the Ultimate Vulvodynia and Pelvic Pain Resource Guide
The Ultimate Vulvodynia and Pelvic Pain Resource Guide was made from myself and Leilani’s own pain and suffering and we want it to be a helpful tool and resource for others who are living in silence with chronic pelvic pain. We hope to empower and help shorten other’s journey so that they can get the answers and care needed to begin healing sooner, rather than later.
This resource guide was created to help you better understand your pelvic pain and EASILY find resources to help you on your journey.
5. Movement for better pelvic health in 2021
Cringe. I know.
That word movement can be triggering for me and so many others with pelvic pain. However, movement and physical activity have been shown to decrease inflammation, improve sleep, mood and joint and muscle mobility.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed when thinking about exercise or movement but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Developing a healthy relationship with movement is a great way for us to take care of ourselves and a great tool anyone with chronic pain should have in their tool box.
A few ways you can start at home daily movement amidst the pandemic is:
- Stretching with deep diaphragmatic breathes (feel your belly, chest and rib cage fill, rise and release)
- A gentle walk (remember to pace yourself)
- Strengthening using items around your home (cans, books etc.)
- Take the stairs
- Clean (get movement in while you get things off your to-do list)
If you would like to take it a step further and take a class to support others living with pelvic pain, check out:
1 free 45 minute yoga class specifically for women who struggle with pelvic pain
1 free online bed pilates class. Email Actively Autoimmune (firstname.lastname@example.org) and tell Zoe you heard about the program through The Happy Pelvis.
I am not saying moving more will cure your pelvic pain, but it is a good tool to have on your side when you live in a constant state of chronic pain.
Since incorporating more movement into my daily routine, I have noticed some improvement in mobility and mood and I hope to continue to gain strength as I move into 2021.
I hope today’s post showed you actionable steps to take control of your pelvic health in 2021.
Now I want to turn it over to you:
Which of the 5 actionable steps from this post are you going to try first?
Are you planning on doing more research in pelvic pain treatment or management?
Or maybe you just want to try incorporate a bit more movement this year to improve mobility and strength?
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below!