Laughing in the face of taboo (Oct 2018)

When we talk about the taboo subject of Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD), with its embarrassing symptoms such as incontinence, sexual dysfunction, pelvic organ prolapse, fecal incontinence and pelvic pain, it is easy to get all serious and to feel really uncomfortable. Having started to speak publicly about these conditions, I have learned that speaking face to face with people typically makes them squirm and cringe in the face of the taboo. Many are happy to swiftly end the conversation and walk away. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how far away you move, the discomfort surrounding this taboo is always there. Moving beyond this discomfort isn’t something that will happen overnight. How can you make people comfortable with subjects that are doused in embarrassment? I have pondered this question for some years, and earlier this year, I found the answer after watching a BBC News video featuring pelvic health physiotherapist and comedian Elaine Miller.

Laugh without leaking

Elaine qualified as a physiotherapist in 1993 and for the first years, she worked with athletes in top physical form. That is until she brought a few kids into the world. Nothing like the reality of post birth trauma to highlight the importance of pelvic floor physiotherapy! Elaine shifted her professional focus away from elite athletes, choosing instead to specialize in pelvic health. Physiotherapist by day and stand-up comedian by night, Elaine realized she could unleash the power of humor to help break the taboo, making you laugh without leaking! By marrying these two careers, Elaine has helped to bring PFD out of the darkness with deep bubbly laughter.

Elaine featured in the recent Edinburgh Fringe Festival, one of Europe’s largest comedy events. Those of you based in Ireland can see Elaine, a.k.a. Gusset Grippers, perform her show on 2nd November in The Mill Theatre in Dundrum (Dublin). The event is organized by EVB Sports, the company behind the shorts that prevent urine leakage while running. Bring a friend along to the event or share it on social media so others have the chance to laugh in the face of this taboo. Tickets can be purchased online.

If you can’t make the event in Dublin, Elaine performs shows across the UK. You can find out more on her website. Outside of her comedy endeavors, she has joined forces with Physiotherapists Myra Robson (squeezy app) and Emma Brockwell (PhysioMum) to create #PelvicRoar. This is a physiotherapy led campaign to promote pelvic health and awareness across the globe. It’s initiatives like this that help to break the taboo surrounding PFD. We have to choose to speak openly about the embarrassing symptoms that keep women suffering in silence.  Let’s band together to create change in this world. Together we can and will make a difference!

About the Author:

DeniseConway
Denise is a mother of two sons and one daughter aged 26, 20 and 17. She strives to contribute positively to this world by breaking the taboo surrounding pelvic floor dysfunction. She is a yoga teacher, anatomy geek and author of The Flower Empowered. She created an online support platform to enable female empowerment through knowledge, community and access to specialists in female pelvic health. #breakthePFDtaboo #theflowerempowered

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