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‘You have gone through your barrister’s training, taken silk and then, all of a sudden, you have to stop to keep running to the loo.Or say you are a female surgeon in the middle of an operation.Women are also expected to be stoic and not trouble others with problems of a gynaecological nature.’American doctors David Wise and Rodney Anderson, who co-wrote the book A Headache In The Pelvis, explain that tension manifests itself in the pelvic area because it is made up of a dense muscular network, which holds up the core of the body and protects organs such as the uterus, bladder and bowel.Under stress, the muscles get taut and tight, cutting off the supply of blood and oxygen.Physiotherapy specialist Katie says: ‘I think it’s about British reserve.In this country, we don’t like to talk about such personal things.Incontinence, often another side-effect of vaginal tension, is one of the main reasons that older women are placed in state-funded care rather than being able to stay in their own homes.
It can be so severe that riding a bike, sitting for long periods or simply walking is excruciating.
It can have severe emotional consequences, too, says woman’s health physiotherapist, Katie Mann, who sees up to 400 women a year at a clinic at the Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.‘For many, the physiotherapy saves relationships,’ she says.
‘It’s not just that making love goes out of the window — intimacy does, too, because women become afraid of having a cuddle in case it’s expected that sex will follow.’Yet it’s only in the past few years that experts have made the link between stress and pelvic pain.
But it appears that the strains of modern life are now taking their toll on women’s bodies in a rather unexpected way.
Rather than store anxiety in their necks and backs, women like Francesca are developing a tendency to tense the muscles in their pelvis So knotted do these muscles become that these women are sometimes left unable to make love.