If there was one phrase that we wish we could do away with entirely, it would be “I wish I would have known”. Time and time again we educate women and men alike on pelvic floor and pelvic floor dysfunction, and it is almost as if you can watch the lightbulb go off in their head when everything starts to click. It does not have to be a complicated explanation of the pelvic floor, it can be as simple as the basic functions and it can still be mind blowing. And most of the time the response is “I wish I would have known this before” or “Why am I just now finding out about this?”.
The frustrating and sad fact of the matter is that this information is not often shared, or thought of as relevant until there is a problem present. What if women didn't have to wait until there was a problem to learn about their pelvic floor? What if they were educated early so that they can prevent injury? This is why we believe that teaching girls at a young age about their pelvic floor, can help set them up for a life of healthy pelvic floor function.
BBC news covered a news story about this very topic, and shared the opinion of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). They believe that girls in school, at the ages of 12-17 should be educated on the pelvic floor in order to help reduce issues later in life. You can find the article here. We could not be more on board with this idea. We are true believers that knowledge is power and it can give people so much encouragement and empowerment to want more for themselves. We want to share today the topics we wish every person new in regards to their pelvic floors!
5 Main Functions
The pelvic floor is a really unique area of the body in that it is where so many of our body systems collide. We have the urinary tract, the gastrointestinal tract, sexual function and the musculoskeletal systems all trying to work together in one space. Understanding these functions really helps connect the dots for people. This is why cyclical back pain you have been seeing your chiro for years to help and the fact that you leak urine when you sneeze are the same issue. Or maybe the pain you have been embarrassed about in the bedroom and your constipation go hand in hand. So to help clean up the confusion, check out this video about the 5 main functions of the pelvic floor and how each of those body systems play a part.
The Difference Between Common But Not Normal
One of the bigger issues, we find time and time again is that there seems to be a lot of confusion as to what is normal and what is not when it comes to pelvic floor issues.So if we believe that incontinence after having a baby is normal then we would be less likely to seek help right? So having a good understanding of what to expect as normal can be helpful in being able to quicker identify a problem and thus getting help faster. Women who are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction, it takes an average of 7 years before getting to the right provider in order to fix the problem. This gap in care is for a myriad of reasons but it is a number we would like to see dramatically decrease. What a pelvic floor should be able to do, regardless of age, number of pregnancies or activity level
- Hold your urine until you get to the toilet
- Hold urine, fecal matter or gas with exercise
- Pass urine or fecal matter with little strain
- Have intercourse or penetration without pain
- Heaviness, pressure or pain in your pelvic floor with activity
Prevent Now, Avoid Reacting Later
The best way to play offense would be to be able to know how to activate these muscles. If we have little to no awareness or control of this area, it is really hard to make big changes. If you recall back to the video of the 5 functions of the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, the transverse abdominus and the pelvic floor all work in close contact with one another. Due to that connection we can use breathing to help start communicating with the pelvic floor. The way we do this is with what we call a connection breath. The connection breath is a big belly breathing that helps use the excursion of the diaphragm and the proper mechanics of your abdomen to start communicating and controlling your pelvic floor. You can find the video of the exercise here. From here, once you learn how to perform a contraction, it makes practicing pelvic floor contractions or kegels much more simple.
We want everyone to be able to thrive through life as best as they can, understanding your body is one really important way to do that. We hope that this information helps encourage you to take care of yourself differently and seek help if you need it. We also hope we can change the way we educate our daughters, sisters, nieces so they can be ahead and not behind.