We have all heard about the pelvic floor. I have a new found love for it. I can't believe how important it is and I didn't even know it until fairly recently.
I have already told you about it here
but I promised a little more info:
The Pelvic Floor is a major part of the core. When we think of the core most of us think of our abs but there is so much more to it than that. This diagram illustrates it nicely
Lets talk about Pelvic floor dysfunction:
One of the most commonly talked about issues with pelvic floor dysfunction is urinary incontinence. This could be from stress related incidents such as coughing, sneezing, jumping or from urge incontinence, when you need to pee and you just can't hold it until you find a toilet. Some may suffer from both and some may have an increase in the frequency of needing to pee.
This is the one that everyone tells you 'oh that's what happens when you have a baby' so I'll say it again, this is very common but it is not normal.
You could have Fecal incontinence, this is when you leak poop, gas or mucous. And some issues with constipation are due to pelvic floor dysfunction. This is not cool and you can imagine this can have a significant impact on anyone suffering from this.
Another issue is Pelvic Organ Prolapse. This is when your pelvic floor muscles are unable to hold your pelvic organs in place. There are 3 main types, bladder, rectum and the uterus descend into vaginal area and sometimes bulge out of the vagina.
And lastly, many women are suffering from some form of Pelvic pain. This could be hip, lower back, tailbone or Sacroiliac joint pain. This can also cause pain during sex. Some of these issues could be down to scar adhesions from either c-section scars or any other birth trauma.
So now you know about many of the issues women are facing when they suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction lets go into the stats a little bit. Now pelvic floor dysfunction is not as studied as much as it needs to be and there are also most likely a lot of cases of underreporting as many women with minor symptoms may feel too embarrassed to even speak with their doctor about it.
However, these numbers are staggering even with the under-reporting.
- 50% of women who have given birth will suffer from Pelvic Organ Prolapse
- 33% of women aged 41-65 are incontinent.
- 55% so 1 in 2 women over 65 are incontinent
- 1 in 4 to 1 in 2 women who exercise suffer from incontinence
- 1 in 7 women aged 18-50 suffer from pelvic pain and 33% have a lifetime incidence
This is largely based on North America but it is thought that the stats are similar here in the UK.
What can we do?
Well let me tell you about my situation and see if that helps a little.
I have weakness in my pelvic floor.
I need to do my pelvic floor exercises 6 times a day.
I forget because I am a busy mum and even though, I am immersed in this stuff, 6 times is a lot!
But when I don't do them everyday at this intensity I get increased pain in my pelvic area, back pain and I pee a little if my bladder is full and I sneeze. It gets worse during my period and if I have been doing a lot of lifting of the children.
I won't need to do them this frequently forever but until I get all this sorted I will need to continue to do them. Because I want to be able to lift heavy weights again, run without worrying about the damage being caused and to be able to fully immerse myself in being taught how to be a ballerina by my son (that was last nights fun activity)
How do I know how many times I should be doing these exercises?
Well that brings me to my first tip:
- Go see a Womens health physiotherapist. I cannot stress this enough. I cannot tell you to just go do the traditional pelvic floor exercises because I don't know what is going on down there. They will be able to tell you if you have a weak pelvic floor or one that is too tight. They will be able to give you rehab exercises specifically tailored to you and your needs. This is so so important. I can recommend one if you are not sure where to go.
- If you have been given pelvic floor exercises like me then find a way to remind yourself. There are apps you can get. Or when you are doing other daily activities. I do mine in bed when I wake and when I go to bed. When I am in my car at lights. When I am doing my other rehab exercises.
- Find a trainer who know what they are doing. Do they cue breathing? pelvic floor? Do they ask how each exercise feels? Do they assess you while performing an exercise? if they don't know what is going on do they stay away from high impact exercises and high weights until they do know your pelvic floor is good to go? If they don't consider any of the above then it is time to find a new trainer.
I understand that this was lot of information to take in but this is an important issue that many women across the globe are facing every day and it can be preventable for many of us with the right education and exercises. I am not trying to scare you into not doing any exercises. My goal is to get you enjoying your life as pain free and symptom free as possible. Almost all movements carry risk but that is just life right? With the right awareness and education on how to move the safest way I am confident that most of can enjoy our bodies, children and our lives without issue.
If there are any questions about anything I have discussed please feel free to message me and I will do my best to answer them or find out the answers for you.