Do you have any guidance for post-chemotherapy pelvic floor health?
By: Dr. Brianne Grogan, PT, DPT
One must be extremely gentle and cautious with the vaginal and vulvar tissues post-radiation treatment, because the soft tissues of the pelvis become very fragile after radiotherapy in the pelvic region and can be injured with manual therapy. I want to state the radiation concern very clearly *just in case* it was part of your treatment protocol. From my personal communication with other providers, and from my research, post-radiation tissue fragility is definitely something to watch out for when it comes to hands-on treatment (or when using dilators or wands). Proceed with caution!
Post-chemo and post-hysterectomy, as long as you're gentle and tuning into your body -- stopping if anything feels like "too much" for your personal needs -- is a safe time to gently stretch and exercise your pelvic floor muscles, breathe deeply into the pelvic bowl, and gently massage the perineum and vagina. These techniques are great for tissue health, nerve health, and will help you regain strength and control in your muscles over time.
The last thing I'll leave you with is that vaginal health (in general) may be compromised by early onset menopause as a result of chemo and hysterectomy. This isn't an indication that you should avoid pelvic floor exercises and/or massage, but it's something to keep in mind. You might notice vaginal tissue thinning (due to hormonal changes), more vaginal irritation, dryness, and possible increased risk of infection due to immune system changes. Make sure to keep your immune system strong through a healthy diet, be sure that you're drinking plenty of fluids and consuming delicious healthy fats, and that you have clean hands and use a natural lubricant when doing massage work on yourself or with your partner.
I hope this helps, and if you're looking for a step by step program for your pelvic floor, consider Overcome Pelvic Pain (for relaxation) or Lift for Prolapse Relief (for gentle strengthening and lifestyle).
This article is for educational and informational purposes only; it is not to be used as a substitute for individualized medical evaluation and/or treatment. Results are not guaranteed. Since I am not your personal healthcare provider, I cannot answer medical questions via email. Contact your healthcare provider if you have questions or concerns specific to your needs. Thanks for your understanding!