PH-2540: Now That the Pain Is Gone, Where’s the Pleasure?

Elizabeth H. Hartmann, PT, DPT, Nari K. Clemons, PT and Elizabeth Wood

Thursday, February 13, 2020 | 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Education Session sponsored by the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy

When treating women with chronic vulvar pain, are you stymied when everything improves clinically (ie, pain, incontinence, pelvic floor muscle dysfunction), yet still find your patients resistant to engage sexually? Discussion of female sexual desire, arousal, and climax are not often included in our sex and health education. Without knowledge of the basics of sex and arousal, how can we help our patients begin to explore their own sexual needs? In order to reach full arousal, the female body, mind, and spirit must be aligned to allow the arousal process to proceed as endorphins, the precursor to sex hormones prolactin and growth hormone, flood the system to prepare the arousal network for climax. Do you have the skill set to discuss a range of strategies designed to help your patients find satisfying sex for the first time or to return to pleasurable sex? This session seeks to reframe the conversation about female sexual arousal and pleasure by discussing the basic tenants of female sexual function, including anatomy, neurology, and methods of arousal. Participants will appreciate how the female sexual system functions as it does, and gain tools needed to purposefully treat women’s sexuality from a functional perspective.


Elizabeth (Dee) Hartmann is a graduate of Northwestern University Medical School of Physical Therapy, Chicago, Illinois, as well as St Ambrose University, Davenport, Iowa, where she received her DPT.  Practicing physical therapy for over 40 years, Dee is an internationally recognized author, teacher, and speaker on the treatment of chronic pelvic pain.  For over 27 years she devoted the majority of her practice to the treatment of women with chronic vulvar pain, sexual dysfunction, chronic pelvic pain, and bowel and bladder disorders. In 2017, she co-founded VulvaLove, Inc. and the Center for Genital Health and Education with colleague Elizabeth Wood. Both organizations focus on normalizing genital diversity through education and research. As an active member of the APTAs Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy, she is originating chairman of the Task Force responsible for the creation of the Certificate of Achievement for Pelvic Physical Therapy (CAPP) and served on the Vulvar Pain Task Force.  She is a fellow and past member of the Executive Counsel of the International Society for the Study of Vulvovaginal Disease (ISSVD) and is a past President and counselor for the North American Chapter of the ISSVD; a current member and past board member of the International Pelvic Pain Society (IPPS); a current member and past board member of the National Vulvodynia Association (NVA); and is a member of the International Society for the Study of Womens Sexual Health (ISSWSH). Dee is happily married to the love of her life, is the mother of 5 wonderful, grown children and Gramma to 8 glorious grandchildren.

Nari Clemons has been practicing pelvic therapy for over a decade with a particular interest in subtlety of manual therapy with specificity of structures to help restore function as part of a multi-modal approach including patient education and neuro muscular retraining. Nari has a private, cash-based practice in Portland Oregon and is also an instructor with Herman Wallace Pelvic Rehab.

Elizabeth Wood practiced for years as a sex therapist. In 2011, she began to pursue certifications in other modalities of sexual teaching and practices. Through her work, she has helped countless women and couples develop greater levels of connectivity in their relationships and achieve more satisfying and stimulating levels of intimacy. Elizabeth is a certified Tantra Educator through the School of Source Tantra and a Certified Somatic Sex Educator and a Sexological Bodyworker through the Somatic Sex Educators Association. The insight Elizabeth gained from her extensive work and training helps her develop and present curriculum that delivers comprehensive, sex-positive sexuality education individuals and couples are looking for. Her current work with VulvaLove and the Center for Female Genital Health and Education is focused on reframing the conversation around female sexual arousal and pleasure through education, print, and research.