What you MUST know about your pelvic floor!

So many topics surrounding women’s health are taboo and our pelvic health is definitely one of them.

With the scary stat that 50% of womb owners experience pelvic organ prolapse after the age of 50 I wanted to share some tips so we give our pelvic floor some much needed love.

Red flags

Let’s start with the red flags that your pelvic floor needs TLC and you should see a pelvic health expert like a women’s health physio or osteopath as soon as you can.

  • You can’t do certain exercises, like star jumps or bouncing on the trampoline, because you may do an involuntary little pee or everything just feels “too loose”
  • You pee when you sneeze, cough or laugh – this happens to 1 in 3 women during their lifetime so you are not alone!
  • You regularly strain to have a bowel movement or have haemorrhoids
  • Certain positions for penetrative sex are just too uncomfortable
  • You need to pee often, feel like your bladder never empties fully or you have frequent UTIs
  • There is a heaviness in your pelvic floor or a feeling that something is coming down out of your vagina
  • You have unexplained pelvic pain

Your life stage – postpartum + before perimenopause

In France and Germany it is the norm for postpartum women to have regular sessions with a pelvic health physio to ensure their pelvic floor recovers after the pregnancy and delivery.

It makes sense, right? Our pelvic floor has never been under as much strain, so of course we should have at least one session with a pelvic floor expert postpartum. Sadly, this is not the norm here in the UK! Should you feel that things are just not quite right, even if it’s been years since your little one was born, do see your GP and get referred to a pelvic floor expert.

Another time when we should ideally see a pelvic floor expert is in our late 30s or early 40s, just before perimenopause fully kicks in. This is a great opportunity to check everything is in good working order before things naturally change as our hormones do. Seeing a pelvic floor expert early is one of the best investments you can make in your long term health!

Toilet talk

Do you do a “just in case pee” before you leave the house even when you don’t actually feel like you need to go? This is very common as we are worried that we are going to get caught short when we are out and about with no public toilet available.

However, these “just in case pees” when you don’t have a full bladder are not healthy for you over time. In fact, it often leads you to have the urge to go pee more frequently and with a lot more blood urgency too! Here’s how.

“Just in case pees” create on-going chatter between your bladder and your brain. This constant conversation makes your brain think you need to go pee even when your bladder isn’t actually full.

So how we do overcome this? The next time you come home from being at the shops or at work, and you feel you have to pee, recognise the urge but try not to act on it straight away. Take a few deep breaths, relax and then do something else to distract you. Then when you feel your bladder is truly full, go ahead and pee. Doing this one simple thing for just a few weeks can really make a difference. Try it and see!                                  

It’s important to acknowledge that the modern western toilet actually stops you pooping properly. I’m not kidding! Human’s anatomy was designed for us to poop behind a tree, in a squatting position. So raising your feet so your knees are higher than your hips, with a stool or the famous squatty potty, can be a game changer!

If you have to strain to have a bowel movement or your poop looks like rabbit pellets/maltesers, you are constipated! We need to have at least one, easy daily poop which has the consistency of toothpaste. Check out my post if you want tools for easier stools (get it? It rhymes, haha!).

Pelvic floor exercises

The Squeezy App has great info on pelvic floor exercises and is really popular.

A few words of caution on pelvic exercises/Kegels.

They are of course brilliant but you can have problems when your pelvic floor muscles are too tight as well as too loose. So if you are experiencing pelvic health issues it’s important that you get 1-1 guidance on the right type of exercises for you.

Do not practice your exercises by regularly stopping your pee mid-stream as this can lead to UTIs. Instead, you can use your back passage to engage your pelvic floor by imagining that you are trying to stop a fart coming out! TMI for you?! Let’s not be embarrassed friends, we all need good pelvic health!

Desk based life  

Even if you do regular exercise and never forget to do your pelvic floor exercises, if you are basically seated everyday for 6-8hrs, your pelvic floor will suffer. We are mammals who are suppose to move! So get up regularly from your desk and shake those hips to give your pelvic organs a good release.

Women are not suppose to have a flat stomach!

Due to our amazing reproductive organs, our lower abdomen is suppose to have a nice little curve. Despite what images in the media would make you think, we are not suppose to have a flat stomach! Yes there are unicorns out there who have surf board flat stomachs, but they are the exception to the norm. So be kinder to yourself and your beautiful tummy.

Great resources to get you started

Core Awakening is an online course run by my friend and colleague Amber Sawyer which guides postpartum women to reconnect to their pelvic floor and core. Having completed the course when I was 8 years (!) postpartum I can highly recommend it. Restore Your Core and Empower Your Pelvis have great online courses to help you look after your pelvic floor. Should you have pelvic organ prolapse a client of mine has shared that this is a wonderful online support group.

Below Your Belt is a fantastic pelvic health handbook for girls and I include it in my top 5 books for tweens. Franky, it’s good for adults to read too as it’s all the stuff we should have been taught when we were kids but weren’t.

How to find a practitioner to help you in person

Although most women have problems with their pelvic floor, very few seek help. Please know that you are not alone with whatever you’re experiencing, it is totally normal AND there are loads and loads of things that can be done to help. Do not suffer in silence!

I know my community is around the world so forgive this long list and also if you know of other experts where you live, let me know!

If you’re in or around London and want to see a pelvic health expert, I would highly recommend Christien Bird. For elsewhere in the UK you can use the Squeezy App directory. This is a European list of women’s health osteopaths. In Singapore, the team at Physio Down Under are amazing! I don’t know anyone in Mumbai, but Tamara Zweck’s team at 206 Optimal Movement may be able to point you in the right direction.

I am super proud that pelvic health guru Monica Donaldson is a guest expert on Embrace Your Cyclical Power where she shares soooo much great information on looking after your pelvic health. You can access Monica’s amazing presentation, by joining my next 6-week live course Embrace Your Cyclical Power

“PMS kind of switched me into a Mr Hyde every month and I was very upset about it - I felt I was fighting a losing battle of self-control. Now I have learned to be kinder to myself and I can handle PMS and perimenopause much better”.

Christel Ong, Massage Therapist, Singapore