If you’ve been noticing problems with your pelvic floor as you’ve gotten older, you’re not alone.
In fact, incontinence is believed to impact as many as six in ten Australian women, leading to many suffering social anxiety from feelings of awkwardness, embarrassment and stress.
Unfortunately, this is rarely discussed openly, however, it shouldn’t be! A lack of pelvic floor understanding and open discussions on the matter have unfortunately prevented many people from addressing related concerns.
But did you know that working on your pelvic floor through targeted exercises can provide effective relief for a range of issues, including prolapse, bladder or bowel leakage, and even constipation?
And it’s not just women who suffer the consequences of a weakened pelvic floor, men can too.
To help get you started on improving your pelvic floor, we’ve compiled everything you need to know about getting started, as well as debunking some common myths.
Pelvic floor muscles give us control over our bladder and bowel. They are the layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs and span the bottom of the pelvis.
Weakened pelvic floor muscles mean the internal organs are not fully supported and you may have difficulty controlling the release of urine, faeces, or even wind.
A weakened pelvic floor can be caused by childbirth, obesity, and straining from chronic constipation.
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The pelvic floor muscles stretch like a band from the tailbone (coccyx) to the pubic bone (front to back) and from one sitting bone to the other sitting bone (side to side). These muscles are normally firm and thick but can wear over time, which may be why you are experiencing the aforementioned issues.
Whilst reading all of this, you might be wondering how to find and engage your pelvic floor.
To find it and get the most out of these exercises, simply sit upright on a firm chair or on an exercise ball. Then, lean forward and support your upper body by placing your hand close to your knees.
Next, squeeze in like you are holding in a wee, then release. These are pelvic floor exercises and involve repeatedly contracting and then relaxing the pelvic floor muscles around the anus, vagina and urethra (urine tube).
These exercises should not feel uncomfortable, though if you do feel discomfort, you should see your doctor.
Getting the technique right is the most important part of the pelvic floor muscle exercises.
Pelvic floor muscle exercises don’t work
Research shows that pelvic floor muscle exercises are effective for some types of incontinence such as stress incontinence and/or an overactive bladder causing urge incontinence. They can also help faecal incontinence when the cause of the problem is a weak pelvic floor, says the Continence Foundation.
Pelvic floor muscle exercises are effective when the exercises are done correctly and when taught and supervised by a physiotherapist who specialises in continence and women’s health.
I’m too old for pelvic floor muscle exercises
This is false! Age is no barrier to the benefits of pelvic floor muscle exercises. You can definitely see a vast improvement in your pelvic floor strength at any age if done correctly.
I had babies years ago, the damage is done
Even if you had your last child 30 years ago, you can still benefit from pelvic floor exercises to reduce incontinence issues.
I can’t sit on the floor so I can’t do the exercises
These exercises can be done in any position and can even be done standing up!
Taking the time to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles is a powerful investment in your overall well-being and quality of life. By incorporating targeted exercises into your daily routine, you can experience a range of benefits, particularly improved bladder control.
Remember, it’s never too late to start caring for your pelvic floor and empower yourself to lead a life of strength, confidence, and vitality.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.