Dr. Rachel Gelman
Dr. Rachel Gelman, P.T., D.P.T.
Occupation: Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist
Location: San Francisco, California, United States
The Sex in My Business: I treat patients with pelvic floor dysfunction. The majority of these patients struggle with some form of sexual dysfunction, such as pain with penetration, difficulty with orgasms/ejaculation/erections, erectile dysfunction, etc. This means I frequently talk about sex with my patients and work with them to address their specific challenges.
A Typical Day: My day is primarily filled with patient care. I spend about one hour with each patient and see between five and seven patients a day. I typically use various treatment techniques with patients to address their specific issue, primarily using manual therapy to treat the external and internal musculoskeletal impairments that are contributing to a patient's symptoms.
The Best Part: I love being able to help people get to a place where they no longer have pain (especially in an area of the body that comes with such a wide range of emotions and baggage), and are able to engage in an activity that is a big part of life. The experience is so rewarding. Having a patient tell me they were able to have pain free sex with their partner never gets old! I also love talking about sex and sexual health, and find the sex tech space fascinating. I have been lucky to collaborate with different companies in this space and always love talking to different founders and helping when I can.
The Worst Part: It is not directly part of my job, but I hate hearing how people (primarily women) have had their symptoms dismissed in the past, perhaps by being told that it is all in their head, or to just to treat their pain from sex with a glass of wine. It grinds my gears to the max! Also, it bothers me that many treatments available for women are not covered by insurance, such as Estrace or other topical hormone treatments, whereas those like Cialis or Viagra, which are for men, are. Double standards such as these in medicine can be tiring.
How I Got Here: I wish I could say that I saw a cloud shaped like a vulva that inspired me to get into this career. How cool would that have been? The truth is a little less magical than that—I discovered pelvic floor physical therapy during PT school, thought it seemed cool, and after shadowing at a clinic, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I was lucky to do my clinical internship at a private practice in Austin, TX that focused 100% on pelvic health.
What Society Thinks: I have always been very open when talking about sex and sexual health, so most people close to me are 1) not surprised and 2) very supportive. When new people find out what I do, they usually ask a lot of questions. I think most people want to talk about their body and sexual health, so when they get a green light, they tend to open up quickly.
When I’m not at Work: I am a bit of an introvert and love to read in my free time. The public library is probably one of my favorite places. It's free!! I strongly encourage everyone to go to the library and support it. They have movies and e-books and again, it is FREE. When I am not telling people how much I love the library, I am probably at the gym or at home snuggling my cats and husband while watching The Office (2005-2013).