Many women struggle with pelvic floor issues in silence because these problems are usually dismissed or normalized. And yet the state of your pelvic floor affects your bladder, bowel, and sexual health.
Let's explore more about what the pelvic floor is, common problems, and solutions to these problems that you can do at home.
The pelvic floor
The pelvic floor consists of a group of muscles and connective tissue that provide support for your spine, pelvis, and pelvic organs (the bladder, uterus, and bowel). The pelvic floor muscles are some of the most important ones in a woman's body.
Common pelvic floor problems
Many women experience problems in the pelvic floor after birth and the time leading to and during menopause. This is regardless of whether she's had a vaginal or C-section birth.
Some of the issues women may experience include pelvic pain, bladder or bowel leaks, perineal tears, back pain, sexual pain, pelvic organ prolapse, or abdominal separation.
BLADDER & BOWEL LEAKS
Research shows that 1 in 3 women suffer from urinary incontinence. This condition could be bladder accidents due to urge incontinence or stress incontinence (leaking with sneezing, laughing, coughing, jumping, running, lifting, or during sex).
When the connective tissue surrounding the urethra becomes overstretched, it flops when significant pressure comes down on the bladder, causing bladder leakage.
Fecal incontinence affects 1 in 8 moms. The condition comes from third or fourth-degree perineal tearing during birth or hormonal changes during menopause.
PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE
Studies show that 1 in 3 women will experience some degree of pelvic organ prolapse during their lifetime. This condition occurs when one or more of the pelvic organs sag lower in the pelvis. It happens due to an overstretching of the connective tissue holding the organ up.
Bladder prolapse is quite common after vaginal birth and could be the primary cause of urinary incontinence. Cesarean deliveries can result in prolapse of the uterus. Also, once a woman enters menopause, her risk of experiencing prolapse increases regardless of whether she has given birth or not.
Other symptoms of prolapse:
• Slow stream
• Start-stop stream
• Dragging or heaviness sensations in the pelvis
• Lower back pain
• Incomplete emptying when urinating
• A bulge vaginally
• Lower abdominal pain
• Sexual pain
All women will develop diastasis rectus abdominis (DRA) to some degree by the end of their pregnancy, and 40% of women still have this abdominal separation at six months after delivery. This condition can continue for years (even for life) if not addressed. It happens when the connective tissue (linea alba) between the two sides of the abdominal muscles stretches excessively.
DRA can give the appearance of a protruding belly. Also, 66% of women with DRA will have at least one related pelvic floor dysfunction, like fecal incontinence, urinary incontinence, or pelvic organ prolapse.
At least 50% (and up to 90%) of women will experience some discomfort (back, pelvic, or sexual) during pregnancy, after delivery, or as they age. Back and pelvic pain is often due to prolonged periods of sitting, standing, feeding and carrying, poor posture, and weakness in the core muscles.
Sexual pain comes from thin or dry vaginal walls, perineal tearing, scar tissue, as well as tense and non-relaxing pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic floor exercises
To isolate your pelvic floor muscles, stop the flow of urine midway. The muscles that contract to stop the flow are your pelvic floor muscles.
Health professionals advise women to do regular pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy, after birth, and during menopause, because pressures and hormonal changes create pressure that weakens the pelvic floor.
KEEPING IT HEALTHY
Women need to do their pelvic floor exercises to prevent and stop pain and leaking and to provide support for sagging organs. Maintaining a healthy pelvic floor is vital for overall women's health and wellbeing.
The key to a healthy pelvic floor is optimizing posture and alignment, ensuring appropriate bladder and bowel habits, and ensuring the pelvic floor and core muscles are engaged in daily activities and during exercise.
The Sole Toscana Beauty Team