One of the most important group of muscles in a woman’s body are her pelvic floor muscles. They support the spine and the pelvis, keeping our backs strong and stable, and they support the pelvic organs – the bladder, the bowels and the uterus.
When the pelvic floor is lazy, weak or too tight, women can experience a lot of uncomfortable symptoms, such as bladder control problems, painful sex and recurrent UTIs.
Here are 5 tips to keep your pelvic floor happy and healthy.
1. Do your pelvic floor exercises, especially if you’re leaking
Bladder accidents during workouts or with coughing and sneezing are all too common, especially if you’ve had children or in menopause. Simply learning how to work your pelvic floor muscles, especially during your workouts, is the easiest way to end those embarrassing leaks. Practice squeezing and lifting your pelvic floor muscles as you breathe out, and letting them drop as you breathe in.
If you’re a mum, and are having bladder control problems, you will benefit from The Pelvic Expert’s holistic and research-based 12-week pelvic floor recovery program. It includes pelvic health education, hormone-balancing recipes and a pelvic-floor focussed exercise program. It’s designed for busy mums and only needs 10 minutes commitment per day to get good results.
2. Don’t hold your bladder for long periods
We should be urinating at least 4-6 times per day, but some women hold onto their bladders all day, especially when at work or out of the home. This can lead to issues such as overactive bladder, urgency, leakage, incomplete emptying and UTIs. Remind yourself to visit the loo every 3 hours, and take your time to empty in a relaxed way – another bad habit is rushing and pushing out.
3. Use a footstool to empty your bowels
To avoid constipation, women should be emptying our bowels on a daily basis, and using a footstool for support. Elevating the feet so that the knees are higher than the hips, and leaning forwards, will relax the muscles tightening around the bowels, and ensure an easy passage out. Again, take your time here, relax the belly and bottom, and most importantly don’t strain.
4. Wipe front to back
To maintain a healthy vulva and vaginal microbiome, and to prevent infections, it is important to wipe front to back firmly. Try not to rub too hard, and stay on the toilet and keep wiping until the toilet paper comes away clean.
Avoid tight-fitting underwear and pants, avoid douching and avoid using products in the vulvar area such as soaps, wipes, feminine washes, perfumes, deodorants, etc. Loose cotton underwear is the safest for the vulvovaginal area.
5. Make time for foreplay
Skimping out on foreplay can make sex uncomfortable – generally women need at least 30-45 minutes of foreplay to reach full arousal. If sex is always painful, your pelvic floor muscles are most likely too tight. See a women’s health physiotherapist, as she can teach you how to stretch, release and relax those muscles.