Kegels? What every woman should know about her pelvic floor.

After having a long and in-depth discussion about childbirth with my MIL (Mom-In-Law) and reminiscing over our various child birthing stories, the thing that stuck out for me, was the importance of a healthy, strong and happy pelvic floor. Now, some people pay very little attention, if any, to their pelvic floors, until they either fall pregnant, give birth or wake up one day with incontinence, pain or the doctor telling them that the gastric bypass might help them lose weight but it can’t fix their weak pelvic floor and I certainly want to avoid all of the above at all costs. So now, every time I walk through a door, I do a little Kegel (thanks MIL – that sure was some great advice) and maybe after reading this, you’ll never go through a doorway the same way again. I really hope so, for you.

 

So, what is the pelvic floor?

Simply put, it’s the group of muscles that form part of your core cylinder. Located in your pelvis, they are designed to work with your abdominal, deep back muscles and diaphragm (the other muscles that make up your core cylinder) to stabilise and support your spine.

They’re also in charge of helping to control the pressure inside your abdomen to deal with the pushing down force when you lift or strain (think exercise, but also think bathroom here). Ok, then why are so few people concerned about the health of their pelvic floors? Maybe it’s not that people don’t care enough, but rather that they’re too embarrassed to talk about this.

Let’s face it – we ALL have a pelvic floor and we all, at some stage of our lives, are going to need to either use it or lose it!

Personally, I would like to use mine for the better part of my life thank you very much, so I’ve put together a really nice, easy-to-read “highlights package” for you. Let’s get to it.

 

Did you know your pelvic floor literally supports the function of urination, bowel movements, sex, pregnancy and delivery and that it keeps the bladder, intestines and reproductive organs in place? So what happens if it’s not working properly and how can you prevent this?

 

  • Pelvic Organ Prolapse – this is when the pelvic floor muscles and tissues become weak and the bladder, uterus and rectum press through them into the vagina. This can cause huge discomfort and pressure in the vagina during sex, lead to a leaking bladder or issues with bowel movements.
  • Urinary incontinence/Urinary retention – this is when you either cannot hold the contents of your bladder in, or alternatively cannot empty your bladder fully. This occurs when your pelvis/ pelvic floor muscles are not strong enough to keep your bladder in the right place.
  • Bowel Movement Issues – this is when either your bowel movements are too frequent or not frequent enough and can be caused by a lack of strength in the pelvic floor.

 

So how can we prevent these issues from occurring?

The answer is really simple – pelvic floor exercises!

But what exactly are they and where do you even begin?

Many people have heard of Kegels and yes, this is one pelvic floor exercise that if done correctly, really can help to strengthen the pelvic floor. But what are they?

 

Simply put, Kegels refer to the act of squeezing and releasing your pelvic floor muscles.

Think sit ups or leg raises – but these babies are way more important than just definition – they’re literally little life savers, that if done correctly, will make you, not break you 😉

Be warned though – they are NOT for everyone, and if you have an overactive pelvic floor, you could do more damage by doing them, so if you’re unsure, you should really seek out a health professional that has experience in pelvic floor health.

 

Many people think they have nothing to worry about when it comes to their pelvic floor because they aren’t in the pregnant, natural birth, middle aged or overweight categories and this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Strenuous exercise or contact sports, excessive laughing, coughing or sneezing, pelvic surgeries like C sections and even genetics contribute to the weakening of your pelvic floor muscles so don’t let yourself be fooled – pelvic floor exercises are for almost everyone.

 

In fact, most Health Professionals recommend that women in their 20’s start doing these exercises as a preventative measure to keep their pelvic floors happy and healthy.

 

Besides, there are plenty of benefits 😉

A healthy, strong pelvic floor means:

 

  • An increase in sexual sensitivity in your vagina leading to more intense sexual pleasure
  • Longer lasting orgasms (who doesn’t want those??)
  • Improved blood circulation, which means more sexual arousal and more lubrication
  • A strong bladder
  • Less flatulence
  • Better back and hip support

 

So, when it comes to Kegels, how do we know we are doing them properly?

Here’s a quick step by step guide:

 

  • Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes and visualise the muscles that keep your urine in.
  • Tighten them as much as you can.
  • Hold this position for 3-5 seconds. (It should feel as though your muscles are lifting up)
  • Release and rest for a few seconds and then repeat up to 10 times.

 

Besides Kegels, did you know there are other simple exercises that can also help to strengthen your pelvic floor?

Most of them can be done anywhere, any time and with very little effort. Here are some to try:

 

  • Squeeze and Release
    Sit in a comfortable position and picture the pelvic floor muscles.
    Squeeze them as quickly as possible and release them without trying to hold the contraction. Rest for 3-5 seconds and then repeat this 10-20 times per set. Do two sets later in the day.
  • Bridge
    Lie on your back, bend your knees and with feet flat on the floor, ensure your hips are hip width apart. Keep your arms at your sides with palms facing down.
    Contract your buttocks and pelvic floor muscles and then lift your buttocks a few centimetres off the ground. Hold for 3-8 seconds and then relax, lowering your buttocks back down to the ground. Repeat this up to 10 times per set. Rest and repeat two more sets.

 

Now you know just how super important a strong pelvic floor is, I hope you smile the next time you walk through that door, because you’re one Kegel closer to a super happy, super healthy pelvic floor!

 

With love The Kegel Kween

 

If you are experiencing any of the issues or any related issues to those expressed in this article, seek out the advice of a professional and get the help you need to ensure your pelvic floor is healthy and happy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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