Cervical cancer is a major global health concern for women. For example, did you know that it’s the fourth most common cancer affecting women worldwide?
While treatments are available to halt the progress of this devastating disease, they can also bring challenges in the form of side effects. Fortunately, having a pelvic health physiotherapist as part of your cervical cancer support team provides invaluable guidance and assistance on your journey towards recovery.
Lots of the women who undergo radical surgery or chemoradiotherapy for cervical cancer have side effects like bowel and bladder problems, or sexual difficulties. Vaginal stenosis is a distressing complication of cancer treatments. Which is narrowing of the vagina caused by collagen deposition, elasticity loss in tissue and mucosal changes due to radiation exposure. it has an impact on their sexual functioning affecting intercourse toleration or gynecologic exams.
Unfortunately, 88% of women after radiation will develop vaginal stenosis.
How can pelvic physiotherapy help with vaginal stenosis?
To reduce their risk of vaginal stenosis, women can benefit from a comprehensive approach that combines pelvic floor muscle training prior to treatment and dilator therapy afterwards. A recent study demonstrated improved long-term results when these two treatments were used in tandem over the course of at least four months—helping women maintain optimum vaginal health going forward.
At Harmony Physiotherapy we take a holistic view of pain and dysfunction, utilizing a variety of tools for treatment. Dilators are one such common tool that can help patients reach their goals other approaches like manual therapy, dry needling, cupping and working on symptoms as whole body approach gives most of our patients great results and help them to recover from overall pelvic floor dysfunction leading to incontinence, bladder urgency/pain, pain with sex, constipation, and so on!
What have our patients found the most benefit from?
- Dilator Therapy
Dilator training is one way we can try to help prevent vaginal stenosis.
- Find your new normal
After cancer treatment, a return to pre-treatment life isn’t always possible.It’s about re-discovering life in new terms – understanding and moving forward from challenging experiences. Rather than dwelling on the past, look to create a new ‘normal’.
Instead of resigning yourself to the difficult side effects of a treatment, find ways to actively manage them and explore alternate solutions. For example, if you are struggling with penetrative sex, you could try a different position, more lubrication or other ways to enjoy intimacy. This might not be the same as the old way, but it could be equally satisfying.
- Take on a new perspective
Flip your thinking by learning to reframe negative statements into positive ones. Acknowledging problems is the first step towards finding solutions. And that doesn’t mean just looking on the bright side and ignoring all that is wrong, but looking at it from a positive lens.
Rather than thinking that your body had let you down and never get it back to how it was, consider reminding yourself, “Despite the wear and tear my body has endured, it’s truly remarkable how resilient it is. I’m determined to take all necessary steps to restore its condition – even if that means renewing and adapting in ways never thought possible before.”
- Find Support
It is important to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. This may include consulting a Physiotherapist, nutritionist, psychotherapist and other health care providers to get help with some side effects of treatments, getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet, and participating in physical activity as recommended by your healthcare provider.
It may also be helpful to talk to a counselor or support group to help with any emotional or psychological effects of the treatment. It is important to be patient and give yourself time to heal, and to communicate with your healthcare team about any concerns or problems that may arise.
You can book a 1:1 free consultation with us and discuss your symptoms through our convenient online booking system or by getting in touch with our team at the clinic. At Harmony Physiotherapy, we are experts in Pelvic Physiotherapy. We are here to get you on the path to a full and healthy recovery!