Body, Soul and Mainstream Medicine
I believe that body and soul are connected. So closely connected, in fact, that keeping these two elements in balance is vital to our well-being. It is particularly important to bear this in mind when treating illness.
Alongside established mainstream therapy practices, it is essential to take into account the interplay of complex human characteristics, rather than concentrating on only one illness or symptom.
Some of the most common symptoms confronted in gynaecology are infections of the vagina (mostly vaginal thrush). If this condition reoccurs many times in a year, it can generate enormous psychological stress for the patient. At the same time there will be mounting indirect pressure on the doctor concerned, who will then increasingly prescribe the usual “off the shelf” suppositories and therapies, perhaps without giving the matter too much thought. However, these can damage the vaginal flora, which will then take far longer to regenerate. In this way, well-meaning attempts at therapy can negatively influence the self-healing mechanisms in every person. It is better, especially in these chronic cases, to carry out a holistic analysis of the patient’s situation in order to uncover the true underlying causes for the symptoms on the surface.
CPP STANDS FOR CHRONIC PELVIC PAIN
There is surely nothing worse than chronic pain from which nothing really gives any relief. In the case of a woman’s pelvic region, such pains can have very different causes. Sometimes it is “just” period pain, sometimes pain from scar tissue after an operation, painful bleeding caused by cervical myoma, pain during sexual intercourse, during defecation, urination, or through endometriosis with no recognisable cause.
From a purely mechanical standpoint, there is a great variety of possible causes, but one can often make an incorrect assumption, as a given pain might have more than one cause. In the so-called lesser pelvis (“true pelvis”), there is a very dense and complex network of many autonomous and sensory nerves.
The difficulty here is that pelvic pain, irrespective of its principal cause, will always be registered by the human brain in a similar way. As this region of the body tends towards something like a “pain memory”, it is very likely that the original trigger for the pain is no longer in play, but the patient’s suffering is in fact even greater than before, due to the chronic nature of the pain.
Here it is also helpful to understand the patient as a whole. The goal is to break down this negative “feeling” and the attitude that actually expects chronic pain. This may sound ridiculous, but the way to do this is through sport and physical activity. The resulting flood of endorphins gives rise to a very different sensation within the body, and the negative spiral can be broken. Over my long career I have been able to observe this repeatedly in patients with endometriosis, in women with only menstruation problems, and in those with issues related to the menopause.
GENITAL DESCENSUS, PELVIC FLOOR & PILATES
Patients often come to my surgery suffering from pelvic floor weakness and descensus. Typically, these women have given birth vaginally several times, or have a hereditary tendency and “tissue weakness”. Mainstream medicine sees surgery as a last resort, and favours pelvic floor exercises as a therapy. These patients will generally attend a one-off course, where they will be shown the relevant exercises. However, once the course is over, the frequency of exercise plummets. I have always found this rather disappointing, as consistent exercise can often prevent an operation becoming necessary.
A few years ago, I also started practising Pilates. I quickly noticed how correctly performing the exercises increases blood flow and warmth in the pelvic region. I have carried this through into my work, motivating women with prolapse and pelvic floor weakness to take up Pilates. The feedback says it all. One patient with truly marked pelvic floor collapse was so happy with Pilates that she went on to qualify as a trainer herself. A gynaecological examination gave astounding results, as if this woman had never even given birth at all!