Head over to my YouTube Channel to hear all about how to use the Wand in Pelvic Pain.
Persistent pelvic pain can be devastating. Though not necessarily the cause of your symptoms, often the pelvic floor muscles at the base of the pelvis are in spasm and having them manually released or gently stretched by a specialist pelvic health physiotherapist can relieve symptoms.
If this is the case you can use a therapeutic wand (or your own thumbs!) to get the same relaxation in your pelvic floor by yourself at home. This is great for those moments when you have to take a long car journey or eat something that sets off your pain – use the wand and hey presto! You’re feeling a bit better again. Doing this regularly alongside physiotherapy can really help you to change your symptoms and to feel confidently in control of your own body again. It’s not for everyone, but if you feel this might help you, keep reading…
The secret is… It’s not about the wand. With the vast amount of fantastic research coming out about pelvic pain we’ve moved on from theories of “trigger points” in muscles to a better explanation of peripherally and centrally driven “tension myalgia”, "palpation hyperalgesia" or just "a sore and tight muscle". The muscle is painful, not necessarily because there’s a problem with the muscles, but because the brain considers it under threat and so interprets signals from the area as threatening, and emits pain as a response to those signals. Pain is an output from the brain, not an input – it’s up to the brain to determine how signals from the body are interpretted or perceived.
There's a really great quick video here all about pain if you want to know more.
Like your physiotherapist’s finger, the wand can help to stimulate your brain to release natural pain relief when you use it in a non-painful way to gently stretch or massage your pelvic floor. This helps to reduce any localised inflammation around the pelvic nerves, and also provides local and centralised desensitisation of the pelvic floor muscles (the nerves aren’t so jumpy anymore, and the way they’re interpretted is much more relaxed by the brain). But most importantly the wand can give you a sense of control over your own condition, which is known to reduce the actual pain you experience. Cool! It’s not about reducing the tension of the muscle or getting rid of knots, it’s the process the muscle and whole vaginal or anal region goes through by using a wand regularly that achieves a more relaxed muscle state and that in the end results in reduced pain, urgency and frequency in BPS. It’s not the wand, it’s not trigger points.
And if you don’t want to use a wand or can’t afford one you can always try using your thumb instead. It works just as well.
Having said all that…
Before you start:
– Make sure you see a specialist physiotherapist to have a full assessment
– Talk through using a wand with them – they will be able to tell you whether it’s appropriate for you and to teach you how to use it effectively
I prefer the TheraWand®/PelviWand® “LA Wand” or "Essential" – it’s exactly the same diameter as my finger so patients know that if they’ve been ok with my treatment that the TheraWand® will be as comfortable for them to use. The EZ Magic is also about the same diameter. It’s something I regularly advise patients to use, I used it in my research and its £44.99 and the EZ Magic is £62.50. Some people like the EZ Magic as it’s made from glass and can be cooled, but I find the PelviWand®/TheraWand® cools well anyway. Both also get warm within moments of being inside you, so I’m not sure this is a notable benefit. As it’s made from glass the EZ Magic is also non porous (which avoids potential contamination of bacteria or yeast), and can be sterilised or used with an intimate accessory cleaner. The cleaning guidance for the PelviWand®/TheraWand® also keeps it suitably clean, and as the vagina is such a naturally self cleaning area and is well used to dealing with invading bacteria (people have sex in all different ways and have done forever, it’s a resilient self-cleaning area) I’m not sure this is a notable difference either way as long as you’re sensible about keeping the wand clean. It shouldn’t need sterilising. The EZ Magic is also reported to have a higher tensile strength than acrylic. However, you’ll not be using that much pressure through your pelvic floor (you shouldn’t need to!!) so I think this argument is null and void. There are strengths and weaknesses to both wands, and they both do a great job. In my experience it generally comes down to cost and the PelviWand®/TheraWand® wins on that account, though the difference in price is less than it used to be.
How to use your:
1) Get comfy. Lie down on your bed/couch with pillows supporting your back and your knees bent, or in a bath of warm water if you prefer. You can also do this standing up in a crouch, but it's much more tricky.
2) Apply some lubricant. This can really help with desensitising your vaginal walls as well, which can become really sore when you are experiencing pelvic pain. I like the Yes Oil Based lubricant
3) Place the smooth end of the wand into your Vagina up to the first curve, which is about 10cm. Think of your pelvic floor as a clock, where the clitoris is at 12 o’clock and the back passage is at 6 o’clock. Aim for 5 o’clock or 7 o’clock, which will mean that the handle of the wand is in line with your opposite leg. You should always avoid 11-1 o'clock and 5-7 o'clock as that's where your urethra and bowel sit. We don't want to press on them.
4) Pull in your back passage as if to stop from breaking wind – this activates the whole of your pelvic floor muscles and you should feel a slight lift through your wand. Now apply a gentle but firm pressure downwards as you try to relax your pelvic floor. Use the wand to guide the muscles downwards and give them a bit of a stretch. Repeat this 5 or 6 times then head to the other side at the back (5 or 7 o’clock) but remember that you need to pull the wand out before you turn it round as your bowel is in the middle and we don’t want to poke it.
5) After releasing both sides you should feel more relaxed in the middle. Now check how well the muscles have “learnt” how to release by resting the wand on one side whilst you pull in and then relax your back passage. You should feel the wand move downwards again. If not then spend some more time releasing the muscle and practising relaxing til you’ve got it.
• Pelvic Therapies have a good sheet describing how to use the PelviWand®/TheraWand® here.
• Wash it with soap and water, keep it visibly clean. No alcohol gel – that’ll tarnish it. Have a look at the manufacturer's guidelines for more advice
• Don’t use it if you’re making your symptoms worse or if you have an infection. Any bleeding, excessive pain or lingering pain – get in touch with your GP and/or your Physio straight away! It might be worth having another session with your physio learning how best to use your wand.
• Your physio will know your muscles well and should be able to point out other areas for you to target with the wand.
• Little and often! 5 minutes every day or every other day can really help – for the evidence of how a wand can help you have a look at any of my blogs/vlogs about my research.
I hope this was useful and you get some good relief from using a wand. Any comments/questions? Catch me on Twitter.