Pelvic Floor Health

What women should know but are too embarrassed to ask

Pelvic Floor Health

Living with a leaky bladder, bowel problems or painful sex, can have negative impacts on both your mental and physical health. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Pelvic floor physiotherapy can address these common issues and a range of others.

Speaking about symptoms related to the pelvic floor can involve intimate details that many women sometimes feel uncomfortable discussing due to perceived societal taboos. But don’t let that stop you.

As a pelvic health physiotherapist with 15 years of practice focusing on women’s health, I encounter many great questions from women every day and am always eager to clarify misconceptions on this sensitive subject. Here’s a short list of some common myths and facts about the pelvic floor.

First of all, what is a pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is the term used for a sling-shaped group of muscles that exists in both women and men. Although very misunderstood, it serves important functions including bowel and bladder control, the support of optimal pelvic organ position, sexual function and support for the bones and ligaments of your pelvis and spine.

Pelvic Floor Myths & Facts

Myth 1: Kegels are all that are required to fix any pelvic floor concerns.

Fact: More than 50 per cent of women do not contract their pelvic floor muscles with verbal instruction alone and can’t perform a Kegel properly.  Without some physical guidance, they often engage incorrect muscle groups. In addition, many pelvic floor issues are not due to muscle weakness but are actually due to these muscles being overactive or ‘tight.’

Myth 2: Urinary incontinence (leaking urine) is normal after childbirth and as we age.

Fact: Although urine leakage may be a common complaint after childbirth or as we age, it should never be considered inevitable or normal. Leakage of urine, gas or stool is a sign that some part of your system is not working effectively.

Myth 3: It’s normal to wake up multiple times during the night to pee.

Fact: People under the age of 50 should not need to wake up several times a night to pee. If the need to pee wakes you up multiple times a night, this may indicate pelvic floor dysfunction.

Myth 4: Should I pee ‘just in-case’?

Fact: Normal voiding intervals are between 2-4 hours which means you should not pee more frequently than every 2 hours and should not hold your urine more than 4 hours.  Your bladder is actually a muscle and can be trained in both good and bad patterns. If you continue to pee ‘just in-case,’ you are training your bladder to have a very low capacity, which can lead to urinary frequency and urgency – the sudden overwhelming urge to empty your bladder frequently.

Myth 5: Pain with intercourse is normal following a vaginal delivery.

Fact: A vaginal delivery may result in varying degrees of tearing and stretching of the pelvic floor structures. If pelvic pain or pressure persists 6-8 weeks post-delivery, you should have it investigated, as physiotherapy can help reduce these symptoms.

Women are entitled to better education in terms of what is considered normal versus problematic in order to seek appropriate medical assistance.

So if you are one of the many women experiencing concerning symptoms, don’t take it for granted that what you’re going through is a normal part of aging, due to giving birth recently or ‘just the way you are.’ Instead, consider being evaluated by a trained pelvic health physiotherapist and get on your way to improved comfort and health.

Pelvic Health Diagram

Your Pelvic Floor…

Can be giving you warning signs by the 4 P’s

Pain: any pain in the pelvic region.
Pressure: pelvic pressure or a feeling of your insides falling out.
Pee: are you experiencing an involuntary loss of urine (incontinence)?
Poop: are you chronically constipated or having difficulty controlling your bowels or gas?

Is the foundation of your core

  • It integrates connective tissue, muscles and nerves
  • Is integral to control of urinary and anal sphincters
  • Is part of a complex and dynamic reflex system

Supports pelvic organs

  • bladder and bowel in men
  • bladder, bowel and uterus in women
  • is important in sexual function for both men and women

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