Your body has a memory of its own
Going through life, we all experience things like failure, disappointments, fear, suffering, sudden loss of a loved one, illnesses or accidents. Traumatic events are all too common, including sexual or emotional abuse, medical trauma and other forms of pelvic trauma. All these experiences, when not expressed or released properly at the moment they occur, or very soon after, can get stored in the body.
The body then literally braces itself; it tenses up to be prepared for the (mental) blow. A lot of this is reflected in our everyday language: “I braced myself”, “I held my breath”, “I’m hanging in there”, “pushing through” etc. All this tension, worry, fear, and anxiety eventually leads to tense muscles and restricted fascia; over time, the body becomes less and less flexible; as does the mind. When under a lot of stress; our mental flexibility also suffers.
Physical stress can develop due to heavy physical activity, wrong posture, pregnancy, giving birth, surgery or repetitive movements that are strenuous to the body. This kind of stress affects the muscles and fascia of the pelvic floor. Fascia can get restricted with stiffness, aches and pains as a result.
Pelvic Floor Muscles
Sometimes the muscles of the pelvic floor have become hypertonic (too tight) which can cause problems like chronic pelvic pain, numbness or pain during intercourse, vaginismus or erectile dysfunction. Unexplained chronic lower back/hip pain and/or constipation problems could be due to a hypertonic (too tight) pelvic floor. Stress can alsor result in a hypotonic (too weak) pelvic floor, which can contribute to problems like stress incontinence or organ prolapse. Most people, however, have a combination of both.
The fascia is connected to the muscles in the pelvic area. It is an interwoven system of fibrous connective tissue that is found throughout the body. Fascia provides a framework that helps support and protects the entire body as a unit, as well as serving a role in the immune system. In the normal healthy state, the fascia is relaxed and wavy in configuration. It has the ability to stretch and move without restriction. But the fascia can become tight or restricted due to stress. When the fascia is restricted, it will pull on the muscles and cause trigger points in the muscle tissue. This can also cause problems like an uneasy, tight feeling in the pelvic area, pain during sex, feelings of disconnection from the pelvis, painful cramps during menstruation or orgasms that are experienced as being painful.
“Your body is your subconscious mind”
– Candice Pert
More and more, we are finding evidence that everything is interconnected. Our cells, our tissues, organs; all work as one mechanism. Dr Candice Pert, a neuroscientist and pharmacologist, discovered that our glands, organs, tissues and cells are storage places for emotions and memory. She claims that your body is your subconscious mind. In her studies, she found evidence that explained the strong body-mind connection and that emotions have a direct effect on our well-being.
As we move through life, stress tends to build up in our system. Luckily as humans, we are a very adaptable species. We learn to live with all these issues and try to live our life around these problems, making the most out of every situation.
When things become too much, and we start looking for help, it is important to remember that (as Candice shows with her studies) ‘the issue is in the tissue’. Through bodywork, old traumas can be resolved on a cellular level, resulting in a more free and flowing life. This means that all therapy that addresses the mental/emotional as well as the physical aspect, like Integral Pelvic Therapy®, is very effective.
What does an IPT session or trajectory look like?
Before your first session
Before a session takes place or a trajectory begins, there will be an extensive intake conversation and a detailed walk-through of the way of working in an Integral Pelvic Therapy® session. Your personal and medical history will be discussed as well as your request for help.
The actual treatment is separate from the intake conversation, so a well informed decision can be made. When you and the practitioner both have the feeling IPT will be beneficial, an actual appointment is made for the treatment.
The duration of a trajectory varies depending on your request for help. You can discuss this with your practitioner.
During a session
Each Integral Pelvic Therapy® treatment can take up to 2 hours. Under skilful and careful guidance by your practitioner you are encouraged to stay in contact with your body, fully experiencing any feelings, memories and/or emotions that may arise at that moment. The practitioner will provide a safe space in which you will be allowed and encouraged to feel all that needs to be felt, expressed and experienced.
Before working on the treatment table, you will be guided to explore how you notice a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ in your body – a crucial step to establish safety in each session. Depending on the request for help the practitioner can work externally and/or internally with the pelvis and the belly. The focus is on connecting with the body, acupressure points and gentle myofascial release, which together help restore balance throughout the pelvis.
In order to ensure safety for both you and the practitioner during this delicate work the practitioner will ask for and emphasise embodied consent in every step of the way.
Embodied consent means that you, as a client feel a full “yes” in your head, your heart and your body. So often in our lives we have “allowed” touch or physical handling that was not 100% within our consent. During an IPT session you will experience time after time what it is like to actually be “in control” of what is happening to you, as you will be invited over and over to sense and express your ‘yes’ or ‘no’. This can be a very empowering experience.