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pelvic floor muscles

How to strengthen your pelvic floor

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that run from your pubic bone to the base of your spine and act like a sling, holding your bladder, bowel, uterus, and vagina in place. These muscles also give you control over when you urinate, and improve your sexual health.

If your pelvic floor becomes weakened you may experience incontinence, pelvic pain, prolapse, or painful sex. Things like pregnancy, back problems, long-term constipation and straining of the bowels, heavy lifting, obesity, or pelvic injury are some of the reasons your pelvic floor may become weakened.

There are several things you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor and prevent it from weakening:

Exercising your pelvic floor

Have you ever clenched your muscles and stopped your urine mid-flow? The muscles you use are your pelvic floor muscles, and this is a great way to strengthen them. We don’t recommend you stop your urine mid-flow regularly as it could cause urinary problems; however once you’ve identified these muscles you can clench and release them at any time. Try doing several sets of 10 to 15 repetitions daily.

Vaginal exercises

Using objects like vaginal cones can help to strengthen your pelvic floor. Insert the cone into the vagina, and use your pelvic floor muscles to hold it in place. Start with lightweight cones, gradually increasing the weight as your muscles strengthen.

Yoga exercises

Certain yoga exercises can help keep your pelvic floor in good working order. Bridge pose is a good one to start with; lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Inhale and raise your hips off the ground, engaging your pelvic floor as you do so. Hold the position for 10 seconds, lower your hips back down and repeat ten times.

Strengthen your core

Maintaining good core body strength can help improve your pelvic floor, as well as your overall posture. Exercises like the plank can help your core; lie face down on the ground, resting on your forearms and tiptoes, keeping your body straight like a plank. Hold for as long as possible, increasing the length of time as your core strengthens.

 

Pelvic floor exercises can prevent prolapse

Pelvic floor exercises can prevent prolapseProlapse repair has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, and the procedure is not nearly as traumatic as it once was; especially when people opt for the sacrohysteropexy, which repositions the uterus and removes the need for a hysterectomy altogether. Still, some simple pelvic floor exercises can help reduce the need for prolapse surgery, and it’s never too late to start taking care of your body.

A weak pelvic floor is often the cause of a prolapse, and neglecting the exercises that are recommended to all pregnant women can be a real mistake. Pregnancy and childbirth place a real strain on the pelvic floor, and the periods before and directly after giving birth are the times when a prolapse is most likely.

Reduced exercise is the best way to take care of fragile pelvic muscles, as even straining your bowels or excessive standing can provoke a prolapse in those that are vulnerable. Even fit and active women have suffered through returning to high impact exercise before their body was truly ready.

It can strike at any time, however, so it’s best to adopt an exercise regime that stays with you for life as early as possible and keep the chances of suffering from a prolapse low.

Several short sessions of pelvic floor muscle exercises can really make the difference. Even incorporate basic pelvic floor muscle exercises into your daily routine, especially during early pregnancy so it becomes second nature. Simply lift and tighten your pelvic floor every time you lift something, stand for extended periods of time or just bend down. Train yourself so it becomes muscle memory. If you do this all the time, pregnancy will be no different and you’ll feel the benefit.

After giving birth, don’t skip the postnatal abdominal bracing exercises, but make sure you lift the pelvic floor muscles first to avoid placing strain on any potential point of prolapse.

In short, make sure you’re constantly exercising your pelvic floor, gently but consistently, to ensure that you have the best possible chance of avoiding a prolapse. The procedures might be much more advanced, less invasive and easier on the body, but the best treatment for a prolapse is to try to prevent it happening in the first place and take action if it unfortunately does.

If you have any questions, or need a second opinion, please do contact us. Mr Broome has performed over 1000 sacrohysteropexy procedures.

 

Understanding the menopause and how it can weaken your pelvic floor

Most people know that the menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her menstrual cycle ceases, and she becomes infertile. The average age for this to happen is between 45 and 55, and it is often confirmed medically when no menstrual bleeding has occurred for at least one year.

Symptoms of menopause

The menopause rarely happens suddenly; for the vast majority of women it can be felt to be on its way for months or even years before menstruation stops altogether. Periods become more irregular, they may be lighter or heavier, longer or shorter in duration, and the time between them can alter as well. Another very common symptom is experiencing hot flushes, when sweating and reddening of the skin can occur out of the blue, along with shivering and even light-headed spells. These hot flushes can last from just a few seconds up to a few minutes, and usually stop after one or two years. Other symptoms associated with the menopause are sleeping issues, vaginal dryness and itchiness, and mood disturbances. Other health problems that may arise are osteoporosis, where the bones can become softer and more brittle, and changes in blood lipids, or fats, that may require medication.

Hormones

These symptoms are caused by alterations in the female sex hormones – hormones that can have very profound effects on the body and mind. These hormones are responsible for the workings and maintenance of the female reproductive organs and their associated tissues. When hormone levels drop, these tissues are affected and become weaker. The weakening of the tissues and muscles around the uterus and pelvis can leave you at an elevated risk of vaginal prolapse. If you have any discomfort in the area, or are experiencing any of the other symptoms detailed on the Pelvic Clinic website, you should arrange an assessment.

Maintaining a healthy pelvic floor

The best way to maintain a healthy pelvic floor post-menopause is to get regular moderate exercise, such as walking. Exercises can also be performed to more directly target the muscles in question. These include Kegel exercises and the plank. Performing these exercises regularly, whether you have symptoms of prolapse or not, can help you maintain good health and prevent any problems occurring in the future. If you have any concerns, you can always seek the opinion of a specialist such as Mr Broome who will be able to advise you.