Welcome to our Specialist Spotlight Series. We launched our Resource Library because we wanted women everywhere to know that urinary incontinence is a treatable condition, and for them to be able to explore what specialists and treatments might be right for them. In this series, we highlight some of the incredible specialists within our Specialist Directory, and shine a light on the ways they’re helping women every day.
Name, occupation, and where you practice.
Hi! I am Hayley Kava, and I am a pelvic floor physical therapist.
I have practiced in North Carolina for the past 6 years, but my family and I are moving to Minneapolis, Minnesota at the end of this month.
I practice both in-person and virtually with clients all over the world, and so in the transition from NC to MN I will be only seeing virtual clients until we get settled! You can find me at www.hayleykavapt.com or on Instagram @hayleykavapt
If you feel comfortable, feel free to add some context beyond your professional identity.
I am a mom of two boys (3.5 and 9 months) and a military spouse.
I am also a former volleyball player and so coaching/playing/training for volleyball is still something I love to do! I also co-host a fun pelvic health podcast called “The Don’t Beat Around the Bush Podcast”.
Your Purpose and POV
What inspires you to do what you do [professionally] every day, and how did you end up focusing on this profession?
I was led into pelvic health via a few avenues.
I was a former Division 1 Volleyball player and after becoming a physical therapist I worked in sports medicine with athletes. The pelvic floor “freaked me out” and I was not interested in working in pelvic health, until I was pregnant with my first son.
I quickly realized that there is nowhere near enough support for people with pelvic floor dysfunction. The more I learned, the more I realized that the pelvic floor is an essential part of our anatomy and the taboos surrounding it are preventing so many people from getting help.
Around this same time, my grandmother was struggling with complications of bladder prolapse/dysfunction. The impact it had on her quality of life at the end of her life made me realize that if she had had support of a pelvic floor PT following the birth of her 4 children maybe things could have been different, for her, as well as so many people who’s pelvic floor dysfunction impacts their lives.
What POV do you bring to your profession? What do you find resonates best/most with your audience?
Social media is now an essential part of my life and business, but my personal experience with social media after the birth of my first son was very negative. I was dealing with postpartum anxiety and would constantly compare my postpartum body and lifestyle to those online. I had to take some time away from all social media.
About a year later, while my husband was deployed a client encouraged me to start an instagram page. I decided if I was going to be a part of this space, I was going to both put out all the pelvic floor information, break taboos with a little bit of humor, as well as share the “realness” of life and motherhood that I really needed when I was pregnant and postpartum the first time.
“Anytime I can share information or shed light on a taboo topic, and help even one single person feel that they are not alone in the problems they are having, I know that I am doing the right thing.”
When it comes to women’s health (and your specialty), where is there still “work to do”? Any myths to dispel? Misperceptions about treatments? Attitudes to change?
I feel that in the last few years there has been so much more access to pelvic health information and treatment, after they start having problems. The algorithm is great at helping people who are having problems find my Instagram page! Where I think we could do better, and have an even greater impact would be if we could reach younger people with proper health/sex education BEFORE they are experiencing dysfunction. When we give young people the language and information about their own bodies, without taboo or shame, we can empower incredible change.
Peeing, pooping and having sex are essential functions for life, and when these systems are not working well there are serious repercussions medically, financially, and emotionally.
We ALL have pelvic floors regardless of gender/identity and so we deserve to know these parts of our body work. We all have essentially the same parts, all just organized in slightly different ways and so there is no need for shame about our bodies.
What advice would you give to women reading this when it comes to taking charge of their health/wellness?
My advice to those hoping to take control of their own health and wellness is to become the foremost expert on your own body. Some examples of how that relates to the pelvic floor are: looking at your vulva, knowing how your pelvic floor muscles work. Understanding what sorts of things “trigger” your symptoms, and what sorts of things help relieve them. By becoming the “expert” of your own body it can then become so much easier to be an active participant in your healthcare. Finding providers who are willing to educate, and help you to continue to be the leader of your healthcare team is essential.
What’s the biggest “lesson learned” (personally or professionally) to come from living through a pandemic?
As for navigating life in light of a pandemic, connection is key! Getting more comfortable connecting with people online has allowed me to meet so many amazing people and learn more than I would have otherwise. Also reconnecting with meditation, mindfulness and the outdoors has kept me feeling great despite all the challenges of this time.
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