Monday, December 6, 2010

The Uterine Tilt -- What You Need to Know

This very well may be the most personal post I've ever written.  I feel like there are so many things that women don't talk about.  We suffer through things, ignore them, hope they'll go away -- I guess the word for that is denial.  Worse, we are just too embarrassed to bring questions or concerns to our care providers or even our friends or family (who may be suffering with the same symptoms).

My paternal grandmother died of colon cancer when she was just 59 years old.  She never had a pap smear her entire life.  To be honest, they don't even know for sure where the cancer started.  It may have started somewhere else, which is highly suspected.

When I was about 33 or so, I started having terrible pain when I had a bowel movement only in the first day or so of starting my period.  It was so painful.  If you have sat through my class, you know how I love "poop stories."  This is not one I particularly enjoy!  I am going to be really specific, as that is how I have gotten to the bottom of this (no pun intended!).  I'm amazed as I've shared my experience with other women, how many of them say that they experience the same symptoms.

Let me preface my story with the fact that I've never had "bad" periods with cramping, headaches, etc.   I always used tampons, up until an episode I had about 3 years ago.  It was in the first 24 hours of my period.   I was sitting at our kitchen table and started having a lot of pain, much like labor.  All my kids were around the table to top it off!  My husband was on his way to church for an activity and I had to call him home.  I really thought I was going to have to go to the ER.  I finally made it to my bathroom where I had to sound it out (again, just like labor).  Once I had the tampon out and pooped, I was fine.  That was the last tampon I ever used.

I had this pain on-and-off for a few years.  After that episode, I was pretty freaked out and just kept thinking about my grandmother.  I was convinced I had a tumor growing!  I scheduled an appointment with an OBGYN that some students had liked for their births.

She ran through several things she thought it could be, none of which sounded too great.  She did an exam and literally laughed in the middle of it.  She explained that my cervix was pointing directly at my rectum.  She said that when bowel was coming through, it would push against the cervix (swollen and blood-filled) and cause the pain.  Once the bowel passed the cervix, the pain stops.  Well, it wasn't life-threatening and at least I knew what was causing it.  Her solution?  Nothing!  She said there was nothing I could do and that it was a good thing I teach relaxation classes because I'd just have to practice what I preach.

And I've done that for the last few years.  The frequency and intensity has picked up since then, however.  Last spring I was reading a Mothering magazine (March-April) about womb massage and different reasons it's done -- infertility and difficult periods were at the top of the list.  I couldn't help but wonder if that was something that would help me.  But who the heck does womb massage?

This summer I was explaining my crazy situation to a Licensed Midwife and she said that I should visit Dr. Kristen O'Reilly, a chiropractor.  She said she had had a number of moms visit Dr. Kristen for a "uterine tilt."  I was, to say the least, intrigued.  Of course, life gets in the way, and I even forgot I have this issue -- until day 1 of a new cycle begins and I have this horrible pain again!

I finally scheduled a time to visit her, not knowing what to expect.  The uterine tilt was probably very similar to what I thought "womb massage" would be like.  My uterus felt tight and she "worked" on it for several minutes.  She adjusted my back and shoulders at the same appointment and I felt like a new person!  Seriously.  I've seen a number of chiropractors in my time, but this was amazing! 

I came back two weeks later, 4 days before starting a new period (yes, I'm that regular).  I could tell that I was more tender, but not as tight.  The true test would be when I started.  Guess what?  It was the easiest period I had had in years!  And, the flow was more steady.  An odd comment?  Maybe.  I've talked with a number of women who say theirs are not "even" either.  In other words, I had reached the point where I didn't really even need a pad.  The flow was almost entirely when I used the restroom.  I believe, now, that that was contributing to the pain I was having, with more blood accumulating and pooling. 

I visited Dr. Kristen two more times over the next month and we both could tell such a difference in the tightness of the uterus.  An easy adjustment, really.

This last period?  Not one bit of pain!  I am amazed!  I was skeptical going in.  Hopeful, but skeptical.  Do all chiropractors do a uterine tilt?  I doubt it.  I've heard so many chiropractors say they work on pregnant women and had many women come to class who visit chiropractors.  But recently, I had someone visit Dr. Kristen and could not believe the difference!  She said she'd seen chiropractors all her life, but Dr. Kristen was the best.  The difference is that she is trained in the Webster Technique and really uses it.  She works one day a week at a birth center and sees their clients.  She is good at working on pregnant women!  She's had great success with turning breeches too. 

I hope this post helps some of you out there.  That's why I wrote it.  After being told there was nothing that could be done, I was just hoping that menopause would get here quickly!   Women should know about this non-invasive treatment.

OK, I know this seems like the biggest endorsement ever, but there was no way around this post without talking about this chiropractor who has helped me so much.  I don't know if you can just walk through any chiropractor's door and ask for a uterine tilt.  I highly doubt it!  But maybe you'll have a better chance at a uterine tilt than a womb massage!


Rachael McCoy said...

Wow! Thank you so much for writing this. I feel like it could have been me writing when you were describing all your symptoms. I, too, had a horrible experience with tampons. It was scary! I will be giving her a call!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Since my last child my (4th) I have had these exact symptoms and have worried and wondered what it could be. I am going to look into finding a chiropractor that may be able to help me too.

Allie said...

I don't have this problem, but I bet a lot of women do! I too read that article about womb massage in Mothering and ended up bookmarking the PDF version and have sent it to many women I know who have issues regarding periods, abdominal pain, and infertility.

that is so phenomenal that it worked for you! I am now bookmarking this post so I can send it with that article for some proof in the pudding!

JB and Cindy said...

Great article, and I'm so glad chiro care has been so beneficial for you. Webster is an amazing technique, and you may want to add that a certified Webster doctor can be found all over at Also, one thing, Doctors of Chiropractic do NOT turn babies. Babies often position themselves correctly after the Webster adjustment, but it isn't because the drs. move them. We removed interference from the mom's body (whether that's a misaligned bone, tight muscle, tilted uterus or taut ligament) so that nothing gets in the way of the baby moving into a proper position. Hope that makes sense; we can get in a lot of trouble if we say we turn babies :). Thanks for posting this, love your blog!

Donna Ryan said...

Oops! It's called a Uterine Lift, not Tilt! Ha! I've called it a Tilt for months! My bad.

Kathy Voigtsberger said...

Donna, just wondering and hoping that the uterine lift is done externally? LOL
I am really enjoying your blog! You are inspiring me...

Donna Ryan said...

Kathy, yes, it's external. Good question. Having another pain-free period as we speak!

Sweetpea said...

Have you ever heard of a cervix positioned like that creating pain in labor? I've experienced horrible rectal pain with both my labors, and I know it's not just a positional thing because one of my babies was posterior and the other wasn't. It's an incredibly painful pressure and absolutely the worst part of labor for me. I was told once during a bimanual exam that I had a retroverted uterus. I am wondering if what you are talking about may help me. Is there a way to find a chiropractor in my area who may be able to do this adjustment? While I'm pregnant?

Donna Ryan said...

Sweetpea, I ran this by Dr. Kristen and this was her response:

"The Uterine Lift should not be done during pregnancy, however round ligament release and minor soft tissue work can be done in order to support the uterus during pregnancy."

That doesn't necessarily answer some of the other questions, or how to find a chiro that does it, but I'd try to ask some midwives for chiro referrals. That's how I found out that Dr. Kristen did this technique. Good luck!

Jana Jani said...

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Thank you