Emma is doing some great work in the chronic pain and pelvic health space. I was so excited to Zoom with her and chat about what she's been up to and how she approaches her work. Luckily, the interview is here for you to read too!
What is The Pelvic Hub and how did it come about?
The Pelvic Hub is an online space that helps to empower people to take control of their pelvic health. We have an online shop with some amazing products. We also write articles, interview experts and host events all with the purpose of informing and helping people to make their pelvic health a priority.
I’m a physiotherapist and pilates instructor, but I’ve also spent years managing my own pelvic health issues, advocating for myself with countless medical professionals and testing almost every product imaginable. I started The Pelvic Hub because I was fed up with the lack of credible information and genuine support available for people experiencing pelvic health issues.
What's so special about our pelvic health? Why should we be thinking about it?
Pelvic health can have a huge impact on a person’s quality of life. Not just when it comes to enjoying their sexual health (although that is a big part of it) but also basic stuff like going to the toilet, sitting, lifting or carrying and simply moving about. The pelvis holds our organs in place and impacts almost every aspect of how our bodies move and function. It is literally the core of our being, the centre of our body.
The thing is, when something goes wrong with the pelvis it can be really tricky to diagnose and manage. Pelvic health issues can cause pain not just in the pelvic region but to a whole bunch of body parts, organs and tissues— all the way from the ribs to the knees!
It’s also, unfortunately, one of those areas that people often feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about when things go wrong. We see a lot of stigma and shame associated with pelvic health issues which makes it that much harder for people to get the help they need.
Talk us through the emotional connection to our pelvic health…
It’s complicated! And there’s a lot going on here, but I’ll try to cover the main points.
Firstly, there’s some pretty obvious physical stuff that happens to our bodies when we’re feeling emotions like stress or pain. Muscles tense, even internal muscles like our core and pelvic floor, our breathing becomes faster and more shallow, our heart rate quickens and our body is flooded with fight or flight hormones. All of this happens involuntarily so even though we might feel like we’re handling the pain or stress well, our body can be telling a different story.
Those emotions and the physical changes that come with them can have a serious impact on a person’s pelvic health, especially when they happen over a sustained period of time. Things tighten, dysfunction can set in, inflammation starts to build. And that negative cycle of stress, inflammation and chronic pain kicks into gear.
But there’s also some not so obvious stuff that happens with the interplay between emotion and physical health. Often you’ll see people with mechanical pelvic health issues who have been through some kind of emotional trauma. It’s hard to know exactly how much of the mechanical issue is contributing to physical pain and symptoms and how much the emotional trauma is contributing.
For some women who experience painful sex there are both emotional and psychological factors influencing their physical symptoms. But it’s not just these types of conditions, it can happen across the board. And if you’re only looking at the mechanical stuff and you’re not dealing with the emotional factors there’s a chance the pain and symptoms will stick around.
I think as women, we tough it out through the pain and think we’re doing ok, but the body remembers. And we tough it out through emotional trauma and get through it, but if we don’t process the emotions or deal with the reasons for our pain our body remembers that, too.
Not to get too woo woo on you and your readers, but I believe emotions are energy that are meant to move through the body and be processed by the body. It’s something that’s touched on often in Eastern medicine and yogic practices. It’s my strong belief that traditional medical practices don’t do enough to treat the person as a whole and to consider the emotional, physical and wellbeing needs of patients. Our mind, body and emotions are beautifully and inextricably linked.
What's your favourite product available at The Pelvic Hub?
Tough question! I absolutely love them all and I’m super picky when it comes to choosing products. Honestly, my job would be a lot easier if I didn’t have such high standards for my customers but I know personally how frustrating it can be to use products that are poorly made and not fit for purpose. Not to mention, ugly! So many pelvic health products out there are super medical looking and not at all appealing to use. But, not in our store. We work really hard to source and stock the best. Anyway, sorry for ranting!
I can’t pick just one product that’s my favourite but I’ll say that for pregnant women and new Mums I love the Ab System for core support and recovery and for getting prepped for birth with the right kind of exercises.
And the perineal soothers! They’re so soft and versatile and washable. I’ve used mine warmed and cooled for my own pelvic pain. But my fiance Stefan also uses it for his sore shoulder and Mack our puppy even used it the other day when he sprained his wrist (seriously, I am not kidding).
If you could offer one final piece of information/advice, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid or ashamed to speak up if you’re experiencing pain and symptoms. Speak up and keep speaking up until you find the right help and support. There are some great practitioners out there, if you’re not sure where to start, try a pelvic health physio (you don’t need a referral to see them).
Just because something is commonly experienced (like incontinence after birth) doesn’t make it normal and doesn’t mean it’s just something you have to put up with. An investment in your pelvic health is an investment in your overall quality of life for today and for the future, too. Love your pelvis!