You're More Than Your Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Occupational Therapists look at the whole person and how roles and routines impact lives. Few OT's also work with pelvic floor dysfunction and how emotional and mental health also impacts physical health. Kyrsten shares her professional journey to becoming an Occupational Therapist specializing in pelvic floor therapy, and how it all stemmed from her personal experience.

By Kyrsten Spurrier, OTR/L


Crissy 0:00

Yay, Kyrsten we are so excited to be here with you, we’re diving into a very important topic that I don’t think is talked about nearly enough. I would love for you to share with us a little bit about what you do.


Kyrsten Spurrier 0:16

Yeah, so I am a Occupational Therapist that specializes in pelvic floor therapy, even more specifically, pregnancy and postpartum. So I opened up my business in Hillsborough, about a little over a year and a half ago now by pelvic floor services, and also do a lot of community educational outreach kind of opportunities here as well.

I was missing a huge chunk of what I needed to heal my body.

Personal Experience Leads to Discovery

Crissy 0:42

That is fantastic. And again, as I said, something that is so needed and not talked about nearly enough. Kyrsten, what made you decide to go on this path and to pursue this field?


Kyrsten Spurrier 0:55

Yeah, so my first son is five and a half years old. And through that birth experience, I had a lot of birth trauma.


I delivered fine and had a grade two tear and when they repaired me, they actually miss stitched me and stitched my rectum. And so I went home, I didn’t know it, I went home for 10 days, I still could not sit for like 10 days. I was in excruciating pain. Went back and they’re like, “Well, you have almost a retro vaginal fistula,” so that there’s almost a hole from my vagina to my rectum, because the stitch was just rubbing all that tissue just raw. And so I had to go in for emergency surgery to repair it. So they did a full repair and reconstruction a little bit.


And so I was in pelvic floor therapy for a year and a half. And through that experience, I had some good pelvic floor therapist, but it was very much of like they come in you do your release work, internal work, send you home with some exercises. And that was kind of that.


And I remember feeling just so emotional. And so there was like a lot of mental work and a lot of emotional work that also was not being addressed through my pelvic floor therapist. And so nobody was asking me of like how my relationships were going, or how this was impacting me being a mom, or how my pelvic floor dysfunction was impacting how I could do my job. And I don’t think that’s any fault of anyone’s, it was just like, Okay, there’s more. And I was missing a huge chunk of what I needed to heal my body.


And so I just felt as an Occupational Therapist in school, we really look at the whole person more, and how your roles and routines kind of impact your dysfunction, or how your emotional and mental health is also impacting your physical health. So I was like, well, what would Occupational Therapists look like in pelvic floor therapy?


So I started doing my research and saw that there was OTs, in New York and Canada and Australia doing this work. So I reached out and I was like, This is what I’m going to do. And so five years later, I have opened my own business. So it’s been a journey, but it definitely has all stemmed from my personal experience.

Differentiating Using Emotional and Mental Health

Crissy 3:35

That sounds like a very traumatic experience. And it is often through those heavy and hard and challenging moments, I find that we tend to find our calling for a lot of us.


Now, you kind of alluded to this, I think, with this more holistic approach to caring for a patient, is that what you would say makes you different from other therapists? Is there anything else that you would add to that?


Kyrsten Spurrier 4:04

Yeah, the only thing I would add is that I think a lot of people look and ask like, well, are you the same?


There’s definitely a physical therapist, and they’re predominantly physical therapists in pelvic floor therapy. And so can I do the same things as a physical therapist? And the answer is yes, like, there’s very little education in PT school and OT school on pelvic floor health. And so everybody is going and getting their education after they’ve gone to school. And so I’ve taken all of those same courses in the physical dysfunction and how to treat many pelvic floor issues that a physical therapist would. I’ve just also tried to strive to get some of the emotional and mental courses under my belt as well. Like I’ve done the courses with Postpartum Support International to do perinatal mood disorders, and then some trauma informed courses.


And so just trying to really make myself the best I can and what I wanted as a mom, I have also tried to set up my clinic to be more of a, “you’re coming in for a massage” experience more than “you’re coming into a doctor’s office” experience. Because that’s triggering for people, if you’ve had birth trauma, or if you’ve had trauma, within your pelvic floor space going into doctors is sometimes a trigger. And so making it kind of a different situation for people involved.


Crissy 5:46

I love it. Sign me up. That sounds amazing. Now, you’ve alluded to this a lot in our conversation so far, both with your personal experience and what you were just talking about how you have set up your office and things like that.


How does our emotions and our mental health affect our pelvic floor? What role does it play in that?


Kyrsten Spurrier 6:11

Yeah, so our pelvis is our storage house of all of our unprocessed emotions, trauma events, and things that have happened to us. So birth can be one of these events. And it doesn’t always even have to be traumatic. It’s how our body processes what has happened through our birth. Sometimes those tissues are not willing to let go, if we don’t look at the emotional aspects of what has happened.


I’ve had experiences with patients that I’m starting to kind of work in that space, and they’re like, Wow, this is bringing up something from my childhood. It has a lot of power in that space to really hold a lot of emotion and bringing in things that we thought we’re buried, and kind of bringing them up to the surface.


I think, as a practitioner, you have two options, you can either just say, oh, yeah, you know, it sometimes does that (not even giving space for those emotions to be brought up) Or, what I like to do is like, “okay, let’s unfold that, let’s see, is there a part of your childhood that something happened that we need to take care of first, before we can deal with what’s happening in your tissues right now.”


And that takes longer. That takes vulnerability. That takes a trust that people allow me to be part of their journey to deal with. So that’s kind of an example of the emotional piece.


I would say, then the mental aspect of like thinking of stress or postpartum anxiety and how, when we’re stressed, our pelvic floor is very reactive to what we do. Like it kind of goes with the flow most of the time, but when we’re stressed our pelvic floor, increases its tension and gets stressed as well. And so that results in a higher tension, so it’s tighter, and can lead to leaking.


So I could go in and just be like, “Oh, we’re gonna focus on your leaking, we’re gonna focus on your leaking,” and try to get those tissues in the right spot and release them. But I could do that all day. And if I don’t address the stress, that leaking is going to come back.


And so having these moms come in and be like, Oh, well, I just have a really tight pelvic floor. It’s like, Well, why do we have a tight pelvic floor? And going that extra step to digging into those harder questions. 

Being More Than Your Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

Crissy 8:55

There’s an element of therapy and coaching and physical therapy, and it’s the whole package. I love it. And you’re right, it is also interconnected.


As you talked about the pelvic region, I immediately went to every yoga teacher I’ve ever had, saying, when we do these hip openers, don’t be surprised if it releases a lot of emotions. And wouldn’t you know it? I cry almost every time. Yes. So that really resonated with me because I’ve felt that I don’t know why I’m crying. But I’m opening my hips and tears are coming down. So I definitely appreciate that.


Do you have any last comments?


Kyrsten Spurrier 9:37

So I would just encourage people like if this resonates with them, not to think that this is something that they can’t deal with, or even if they’ve tried pelvic floor therapy in the past, maybe it just needs to have a different approach.


I get a lot of people that are just like, well, I’m broken. This is what I am. And I think we can take a different spin on things, even if your pelvic floor dysfunction doesn’t change a whole lot, there’s ways to then work on how your emotions and mental health are working with that pelvic floor dysfunction and so that you can still be engaged in your community, you can still feel confident as a mother and be confident in your work, those things still really matter. And it shouldn’t be guiding your life, your whole life.


And then I wanted to just let everyone know, through this whole year, I’m going to try to educate through this collective just what women should be looking for in a pelvic floor therapist, and just kind of going back to our network and through social media, it’s kind of become more aware that you should go to pelvic floor therapy, but still within pelvic floor therapy, there is a variety of providers, and we all kind of look at different things.


So it’s not, oh, I just went and that was great. Some people just don’t jive with one person. So trying different providers out and knowing that there is a variety of treatments that people do.


And so next quarter, I’m going to be giving like a practical application of how to tap into that emotional state of your pelvic space, and letting you do that at home and seeing what comes up for you. And so that you can see if it’s impacting the rest of your life in any kind of way and how you interpret that. So I hope you guys catch me for that.


Crissy 11:39

Thank you so much, Kyrsten. That was a lot of really, really good information. And I know we’re excited to continue learning from you this year. We appreciate it.


Kyrsten Spurrier 11:49

Thank you

Kyrsten believes every mom should feel empowered, supported and strong in their bodies.  She was introduced to pelvic health therapy after the birth trauma of her first son.  She felt isolated, embarrassed and weak in her body and even after going to pelvic floor therapy she felt that there was a great need to be better and to think more holistically.

Kyrsten was working as an Occupational Therapist for 3 years in a hospital based setting at this point and started to research what she needed to do to help women with similar experiences.  That began her 4 year journey of taking continuing education classes that focused on the physical, emotional and mental aspects of pelvic floor dysfunction. Kyrsten opened her own business in Oct 2021, The Perinatal Pelvis.

Spread the word

  • No comments yet.
  • Add a comment

    Medical Disclaimer: All content found on the HER Health Collective Website was created for informational purposes only and are the opinions of the HER Health Collective experts and professional contributors. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.  If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately.