Did you know that your pelvic floor is an internal muscle? That tight is not the same as strong and some women get the ideal muscle contraction mixed up? If you answered no to these questions, you are not alone. There is plenty that women do not know about their pelvic floor, and we need to do better!
Let’s look at FIVE things women need to know about their pelvic floor, but often don’t!
Your trainer cannot feel it
Sometimes it is mistaken that feeling the abdominals inside the hip bones can give feedback on your pelvic floor. This is incorrect. What you feel just inside your hip bones is your Transversus Abdominis (TA). The TA is designed to co-contract with the PF but in many people, especially postpartum women, it does not.
Tight doesn’t mean strong
A tight pelvic floor is not a strong one. There is a misconception that tight means strong. This is not the case and is very important to understand.
A tight muscle is still a weak muscle and for your pelvic area we want to ensure it is able to move through its full range of motion meaning that you can contract it well and also relax it well – the ability to relax is very helpful when it comes to pushing out a baby.
It’s not a ‘new mum’ problem
Women with older children don’t need to worry about their pelvic floor – this couldn’t be more wrong! If you are a woman of an older child, chances are no one is talking to you about it anymore and if you have symptoms, you may have just learned to live with them. This is not okay.
Symptoms may include:
- leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running
- failing to reach the toilet in time
- passing wind from either the anus or vagina when bending over or lifting
- reduced sensation in the vagina
- tampons that dislodge or fall out
- a distinct bulge at the vaginal opening
Postpartum pelvis floor symptoms are common but definitely not normal for you to live with for the rest of your life. It’s best to seek the help of a professional, even if your kids aren’t babies anymore. These symptoms can get even worse as you approach perimenopause so best to get it checked out.
Odds are, you’re doing it all wrong
We’ve all been told about pelvic floor exercises, right? A simple and effective way to strengthen your pelvic floor. But did you know 50-60% of women push down on their pelvic floor (PF) instead of drawing it up (the correct movement)? The main reason for this is that we are being taught about pelvic floor exercises verbally or through a brochure. This means a woman that thinks she is ‘strengthening’ her pelvic floor through regular exercises could be weakening them.
You could also find yourself pushing out instead of drawing up under load which is not okay and could lead to more damage down the track.
It’s hard to know unless you ask
A damaged Pelvic Floor muscle may not be symptomatic – even a weak pelvic floor may not be symptomatic. You could have a very mild bulge of one of the organs of your pelvis (bladder, uterus, rectum) pushing into the walls of your vagina which may not be described as a prolapse….yet.
But without working on getting this checked out, you really don’t know. And, it could become worse over time. The main symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor is incontinence. If you are concerned about your pelvic floor, consider working with a Women’s Health or Pelvic Health Physiotherapist.
To find a Women’s Health Physiotherapist in your area you can head to the ‘find a physio’ section over at https://mumsafe.com.au/physios/
What to read next
- What Really Happens If You Don’t Do Your Pelvic Floor Exercises?
- Fitness Expert Sally Symonds Explains Why Pelvic Floor Exercises are a Must
- How to Stop Peeing Yourself After Having a Baby
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.