Scar Tissue and The Pelvic Floor
When we hear scar tissue, most of us think old injuries, surgical scars, or skin wounds. What many people don’t realize is that the pelvic floor and surrounding areas- like the vagina, vulva, and cervix- often accumulates scar tissue as well.
This accumulation of scar tissue, or adhesions, can impact people’s comfort, pleasure, health, and overall well being.
Where Does it Come From?
Scar tissue in the pelvic floor is relatively common- but that doesn’t make it any easier to live with. It can develop from a variety of things like spontaneous tearing during birth, episiotomies, C-sections, Endometriosis, hysterectomies, fibroids, certain STIs, pelvic inflammatory disease, pelvic floor prolapse, and other injuries and ailments.
While the pelvic floor is incredibly strong and resilient (it’s made to push out babies after all!), these tissues are sensitive. Given all the action and potential bodily trauma that happens near the pelvic floor, it’s no wonder so many people are living with the discomfort of scar tissue accumulation.
The building of scar tissue is one of the body’s natural healing mechanisms. This scar tissue is made of collagen, much like the original tissue. Problems arise when that tissue is inferior, and less elastic than the original one. It’s a bodily process that most of us are familiar with- loss of flexibility equals stiffness, possible desensitization and pain.
The loss of blood flow and oxygenation to these areas only increases the discomfort many feel. Scars and incisions in surrounding areas, like after a cesarean section, may cause pain close by because of how the scar tissue pulls ligaments and connective tissue in the pelvic area.
Ooo, Ahh, Ouch!
The human body is nothing short of miraculous- but it can be frustrating when it seems like our bodies are working against us. How can this natural healing phenomenon cause so much difficulty in people’s lives?
One of the most common complications from pelvic floor scar tissue is dyspareunia, a fancy word for pain during sex. When you’re trying to get it on, and nothing feels quite right, or it outright hurts- it’s easy to get discouraged. Pelvic floor scar tissue can turn the tender act of sex into a dreaded activity.
To Pee or Not to Pee
The pelvic floor is the epicenter of the human body. It quite literally holds up our internal organs, and connects one limb to another. When there is a loss of mobility and function thanks to scar tissue, it can cause intense back pain, and discomfort throughout the whole body. This can interfere with daily activities like walking and sitting.
Urinary and bowel dysfunction. Incontinence and constipation are common side effects of pelvic floor scar tissue. The anus, urinary tract, and everything in between are intricately connected. The whole peeing yourself after birth thing is all too much of a reality for some women!
What about Conception?
One of the most heart wrenching side effects of pelvic scar tissue is difficulty conceiving. When these adhesions occur in the fallopian tubes or uterus, it can be make it difficult for an egg to move through the tubes, or implant in the uterus. Leading to difficulty conceiving, ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages. If there are adhesions on the ovaries, it may prevent them from releasing eggs in the first place.
The Frustration is Real
All of these complications from pelvic floor adhesions can lead to very real and disheartening truths. Living with the daily reality of it can affect someone’s confidence, happiness, and mental health. Anxiety, depression, and even PTSD, can develop from living with chronic physical pain or discomfort.
This is not to be taken lightly. If you, or someone you love may be experiencing this- please consider seeking professional help.
Maybe after reading this you have a hunch that pelvic floor scar tissue is negatively impacting your life- now you’re wondering what to do about it. Luckily there’s plenty of options and experts to turn to.
Physical Therapy. There are physical therapists who specialize in the pelvic floor. These PT’s are used to working with people postpartum, as well as after an injury or illness, and have the compassion to understand the sensitive emotional issues that arise with them.
They may use hands-on techniques to help break gently break up scar tissue, and stretch and relax the surrounding muscles. Your PT may also prescribe using a vagina dilator. While dilators look a lot like dildos, they are a medical device that allows the vaginal muscles to relax over time, leading to more flexibility and less pain.
Similar to physical therapists, sexological bodyworkers use hands-on, as well as hands-off techniques to remediate scar tissue and blockages that occur in the pelvic area and sexual organs. They address the connection between the autonomic nervous system and how it relates to our physical and emotional awareness.
Yoni steam. This practice, while common in many areas of the world, is just now starting to gain traction in holistic communities throughout western cultures. It involves sitting over a pot of steeped herbs, specific for vaginal health, and allowing the steam to move through the pelvic area. This gentle technique can increase oxygenation and blood flow in the vagina, while receiving medicinal benefits from the plants used.
Self-massage. Scar tissue remediation can be done by yourself at home with gentle massage techniques. Different from masturbation, this gives people the chance to develop a physical understanding of where their blockages are, and get back in touch with areas that may feel frozen. For more severe cases, make sure to advise a medical professional.
Therapy and mental health services. Again, pelvic floor scar tissue and dysfunction can lead to understandable emotions and frustration. If the side effects of it are significantly interfering with your life- it may be time to talk to a professional about it. They’re here to help, and so are we.
Natasha (she/they) is a full spectrum doula, reproductive health content creator, and sexual wellness consultant. Her work focuses on deconstructing the shame, stigma, and barriers people carry around birth, sex, and beyond, to help people navigate through their lives with more pleasure, softness, and sensuality. You can connect with Natasha on IG @spectrumoflovedoula.