Looking after our pelvic floor is important for women at all stages of life. By Jen Dugard
Many women I work with only becomes aware of her pelvic floor once they have pushed (or tried to push) a baby through it. It saddens me that as females we are not provided with more pelvic floor education as standard as we grow up.
There are women out there who do not fully understand the different parts of their anatomy. I am on a mission to change this and change it before women are giving birth. It is important to know that pelvic floor health is not just relevant for postpartum women but also for younger women (and men for that matter!)
Let’s cover off some of the things every woman needs to know about her pelvic floor.
Your pelvic floor can be too tight (as well as too loose)
We often hear ‘do your pelvic floor exercises’ and this may be correct for some women but some women need to relax their pelvic floor more than they need to contract it.
A fully functioning pelvic floor can move through its full range of motion to be functionally strong. A pelvic floor that is too tight and cannot relax is a problem (especially if you might want to push a baby out of it one day). Many young women experience symptoms of a hypertonic pelvic floor which may be over-looked for a long time.
If you, or someone you know experience any of these symptoms seek guidance from a Women’s Health (WHP) or Pelvic Health Physiotherapist. It could be a game-changer in finding relief; frequent UTI’s, painful intimacy, glute, back or hip pain, slow flow of urine, constipation, straining or feeling like you need to push out when you go to the toilet, pain or discomfort when inserting a tampon, even urinary incontinence can be a symptom of a hypertonic pelvic floor.
Your superficial pelvic floor is involved in your ability to reach intimate satisfaction
If you have had a baby and your ability to experience the big ‘O’ has changed this may be due to your superficial pelvic floor being affected. But if this is something you can relate to then booking an appointment with a practitioner could be incredibly helpful.
Some women push out when they think they are drawing up
Research suggests 50-60% of women bare down (push out) on their pelvic floor instead of drawing it up (the correct movement) when they are told how to do their pelvic floor exercises verbally or read from a brochure.
Imagine if you are getting this movement wrong and heading to the gym because you love to lift a bar bell – you load up the bar, think you are drawing up at the hardest point of the exercise and push out underload instead – Eek!
You can’t feel it on the outside
No exercise professional can tell you simply through touch if it’s switching on or anything about its strength, functionality, or endurance. To properly understand your pelvic floor, I always recommend my clients see a health practitioner – it is these specialists that can assess your pelvic floor externally using Real Time Ultrasound and internal examinations (it’s not as scary as it sounds and it’s VERY informative).
To support your pelvic floor function, you can find a Women’s Health Physiotherapist in your area by heading to the ‘find a physio’ section over at https://mumsafe.com.au/physios/.
Jen Dugard is the founder and creator of MumSafe™️ – the go-to website for mums to connect with Personal Trainers that are certified, experienced and partner with Women’s Health Physiotherapists so that you know you are in very safe hands.