A conversation about sex, Kegels, and pelvic floor health with Dr. Katie Taylor.
Hi, friends! Today I am addressing pelvic floor health and the evidenced-based practices from a specialist in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. If you know Dr. Katie, you love her. She is incredibly sweet and knowledgeable.
I can speak to this account on a personal level. I started seeing Dr. Katie in April 2021. I was experiencing chronic back pain, hip pain, and underlying pelvic floor issues that CAUSED all my pain. I was a 30-year-old woman but had to coach myself to get out of bed in the morning. Certain movements had to get me out of bed. That’s a problem, my friends.
When I first went to Dr. Katie, we addressed my hip/back pain and constipation. She taught me some physical exercises to do but insisted on including breath work to relax my body. As a doula that preaches breath work every day, I sometimes neglect to do it for myself. Within a few days, I noticed that I was more relaxed while having a bowel movement and became very regular. There were no changes to my diet, either.
More on Dr. Katie
One more note about Dr. Katie before we get into our post. I saw a medical professional for back pain and the response was “Well you are very overweight, so you need to lose about 20 pounds and your back pain will go away.” Did this professional ask about my medical history or any traumas in my life? No, he looked at me, my weight, and BMI and determined I was obese. Katie addressed this immediately – so friends, if this is something you are struggling with, she and her team are listening ears that understand the biologically female body and it’s functions; mental and physical.
Since that first visit in April, she has expanded her practice and is now located above Hawthorne OBGYN in Winston-Salem. I am a walking testimonial of her services – decreased hip and back pain, bowel regularity and significantly decreased TMJ pain.
Q: Hi Katie! Can you please let the readers know a little bit about yourself?
A: My name is Katie Taylor and I am a native of Winston-Salem. I am married to my highschool sweetheart and have two beautiful children ages 6 and 3 who keep me busy when I’m not in the clinic. I love to move my body and run outdoors as often as my schedule allows it! Professionally, I have my doctorate in physical therapy from UNC-Chapel Hill and have opened my own practice, Taylor Physical Therapy and Wellness, here in the Triad. After moving home last year and seeing a huge need for pelvic health providers, I decided to open my own practice and we just celebrated our first birthday in November!
Q: What led you to physical therapy?
A: I knew I always wanted to do something in healthcare yet traditional medicine seemed to lack having a deeper connection with the patient. My love of physical activity blended well with my love for helping others within the field of physical therapy.
Q: Pelvic Floor health: I feel it’s been a new conversation since the start of the pandemic. Can you explain what the pelvic floor is and does?
A: The pelvic floor is a collection of muscles within our pelvis that help our bowel, bladder, and sexual functions. These muscles also help to stabilize our hips and pelvis to better support our spine and body. There are certain symptoms to watch for to determine if you have pelvic floor dysfunction and should see a pelvic floor specialist. They include urinary urgency, frequency, or leaking, pelvic pain (low back, hip, pubic bone, tailbone), abdominal pressure or vaginal pressure and heaviness, pain with intimacy, and a history of falling onto your tailbone even if it was as a child. If a woman has any of these things, she should have at least a consultation with a pelvic floor specialist. The field of pelvic health has certainly gained more traction in the last five years and become more of a household name!
Q: What are the most common issues with your patients?
A: We see women across the lifespan for pelvic floor and orthopedic issues. The most common things are prenatal and postpartum care, urinary leaking and urgency, and chronic pelvic conditions (endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, vulvodynia, pain with intimacy to name a few).
Q: There are many benefits for pelvic floor physical therapy as a woman is pregnant or postpartum. What are the benefits for those that are not in this stage of life?
A: I am certainly biased saying this, but every person with a vagina should see a pelvic floor specialist! Women of ALL ages with or without children have pelvic floor issues. In fact, we see adolescents and collegiate athletes that have urinary issues that have never been pregnant or had children. Certainly we address specific symptoms a woman may be experiencing (ex: leaking, pain, bowel issues) but it can always be beneficial to have a baseline assessment of your pelvic floor: how strong and coordinated is it? Are your bowel and bladder habits normal? Things that need to be addressed prior to having children? I want to also mention that women experience considerable hormonal changes around menopause. This is a period of life in which many women experience pelvic floor dysfunction and there are effective treatment options for these women as well.
Q: Let’s talk about the kegals — what is a kegal exercise and what does it do to the pelvic floor?
A: A kegel exercise is a form of strengthening for the pelvic floor muscles. Kegels get lots of attention and it is common for women to hear, “Do your Kegels to keep your pelvic floor healthy!” However, the majority of women perform Kegels incorrectly and they are often NOT appropriate for patients to be doing. For example, if a woman has an overactive (tight) pelvic floor and is experiencing urinary leaking then performs Kegels, which would contract and tighten the tissue even further, it can make her symptoms worse. Before considering doing Kegels one should consult a pelvic PT to ensure they are appropriate and actually done correctly.
Q: Are there any benefits of kegel exercises?
A: For some women, yes there are benefits to doing pelvic floor strengthening exercises including kegels. Women that have pelvic organ prolapse can benefit from strengthening the pelvic floor to better support the prolapsed tissue. In some cases, women can be experiencing urinary leaking due to weak and uncoordinated muscles. This is another example of someone who may benefit from doing Kegels.
Q: A lot of companies of influence like Elvie, a hands-free breast pump, have a kegel exerciser. What are your thoughts on this?
A: There are lots of products and apps on the market that advertise kegel features and again I caution women with these because the majority of women are not doing kegels correctly and in fact may be worsening symptoms if they are not appropriate for kegels. If after seeing a pelvic floor provider they are instructed in strengthening exercises then perhaps these devices can help guide that as a part of a bigger program they are doing.
Q: If someone is not able to be evaluated in a clinic, what are some warning signs that the pelvic floor is needing to be addressed?
A: Any concerns or dysfunction within the bladder, bowel, or sexual systems of our body. If you are experiencing any of the following you should see a pelvic floor provider:
1. Urinary urgency, frequency, or leaking
2. Urgency, frequency, or leaking with bowel movements
3. Waking at night more than twice to urinate
4. Pain in your low back, hips, pubic bone, or tailbone
5. History of falling onto your tailbone even if it was as a child
6. Sensation of heaviness or something falling out of your pelvis
7. Pain with intimacy
Q: What are exercises women can do to improve their pelvic floor health?
A: Movement in general is the best broad advice I would give. Our bodies are made to move and I recommend getting 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise (walking, biking, swimming, dancing, strength training for example). Additionally, there are benefits of balance and stability work for the pelvic floor. This can include yoga, pilates, balance training, or work on a rebounder.
Q: Besides addressing internal concerns for women, do you treat other conditions as a physical therapist?
A: Our practice sees just about everything! My board certification is in orthopedics so I see women with headache/TMJ issues all the way down to foot and ankle issues. Often women with other issues also have pelvic floor issues so the two blend really well together. Additionally, we specialize in oncology care and see women with breast and gynecologic oncology related conditions including lymphedema.
Q: Where are you located and how can my followers find you?!
A: We are in the heart of Winston-Salem off of Country Club Road. Women can connect with us online at Taylorptandwellness.com and follow us on instagram @taylorptwellness
Our phone number is 336-310-5038
Thank you, Dr. Katie!
I am honored that I get to work with Dr. Katie professionally and on a personal level. I have referred so many of my clients to her for postpartum or prenatal care. I have been having the conversation more recently, but I am often asked about pain with intimacy once your provider gives the go ahead for introducing penetration. I will say, just because you are cleared does not mean your body is ready for penetrating sex! If you have any concerns about this, her contact info is listed!
In addition, we will be hosting The Triad’s first ever push prep class January 8th, 2022. This will include pelvic floor information, pregnancy and postpartum care from yours truly, and an evidenced based approach to labor and delivery; whether you have a vaginal or birth by cesarean. If you would like more information about postpartum care and support, feel free to reach out to me here and I will be available to help!