Sara Reardon wants people to make pelvic floor health a priority — and sometimes, that involves wearing a vulva costume.
The New Orleans-based women’s health and pelvic floor physical therapist runs the Vagina Whisperer website and Instagram account, a destination for people seeking to strengthen and learn more about their pelvic floors.
The pelvic floor muscles are located between the tailbone and the pubic bone within the pelvis. In females, they support the uterus and vagina, as well as the bowel and bladder. Over time, these muscles can weaken, which can lead to issues such as constipation and incontinence. For Reardon, it was a clinical residency in graduate school that brought to light the significance of the pelvic floor in overall health.
“These muscles are responsible for really important things, like peeing and pooping and reproductive health and periods and sex,” she tells Yahoo Life. The patients she worked with were “so thankful that they had someone to help them with these really intimate issues. I just found the work really rewarding.”
Reardon, who now operates NOLA Pelvic Health — the only clinic in New Orleans that focuses solely on pelvic floor therapy — also uses the power of the internet to educate people who can’t come into her office through her Vagina Whisperer website. She launched an Instagram page of the same name in early 2017, after her son was born. It has more than 480,000 followers.
While her main focus was initially postpartum pelvic floor health, she has since expanded beyond that. Her Instagram features bite-size tips on everything from ways to strengthen your pelvic floor and the difference between the vulva and the vagina to how your daily Peloton practice may affect your pelvic floor and why people “queef.”
For Reardon, openly discussing these topics is key. “This is part of your body, like a shoulder or a foot or a knee,” she notes. “Part of the reason we don’t address some of these pelvic floor issues is because we’re not comfortable talking about it.”
Reardon says it’s also important for her to keep all of the information she shares relatable. “I don’t want to use words like ‘urinary incontinence,’” she explains. “I’m like, ‘Do you pee your pants?’ Trying to connect with people in a way they would understand, that didn’t feel so clinical, has been really helpful. The response has been tremendous. It’s almost half a million people who were like, ‘I want to learn more about my pelvic floor and my vagina and my vulva.’ It’s really a testament to how many people want this information, but they’re not getting it from other places.”
Another way that Reardon keeps her content relatable? Costumes. Well, specifically, one costume — a giant vulva, which she first posted on her Instagram when she reached 10,000 followers in 2018. The initial post, which featured her floating in a pool while sporting the anatomical outfit, came about with the help of her twin sister, who worked in marketing.
“There was a store called Conceived in Brooklyn, which sold these vulva costumes,” Reardon explains, noting that the costumes were popularized around the same time as the Women’s March [in 2017] but are no longer available. Though the $130 costume was, at the time, a big purchase for the pelvic floor therapist, she calls it the “best investment” she has made.
The costume, as silly as it may be, helps people get more “comfortable” with the vulva, she says — which can help people advocate for their health.
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