Can we talk a little bit about things that are maybe a little bit uncomfortable to talk about? Like peeing when you sneeze? Birthing babies and needing stitches from it? And all the little annoyances that come from such an experience? I bring this up because it is estimated that 1/3 of women will experience some sort of pelvic floor disorder in their lifetime. Maybe this means they pee a little whenever they laugh out loud. Maybe this means they have a little bit of fecal incontinence. Whatever it means, it’s no laughing matter. And, unfortunately, women who have birthed babies are more likely to experience such surprises.
So, what is pelvic floor disorder? It’s a condition in which the pelvic floor the muscles that form a shelf on which the bladder, uterus, and rectum rest is weakened or compromised. Because it is weak, the pelvic floor sometimes has a hard time keeping everything in. Some women may pee a little when they cough or sneeze or laugh or jump, some may always feel the need to rush to the ladies room.
Now, just because it is a relatively common disorder doesn’t mean it is something to be passive about. There are things that can be done to strengthen the pelvic floor, and they can be done daily without ever leaving the house. Just a few choice exercises, a few minutes a day will keep things tight and tidy so that spontaneous laughter is only joyful and not embarrassing.
First, Kegels. Imagine that your pelvic floor is a hammock and that Kegels keep the hammock strong and free of tears. That’s a good first step. So, squeeze and hold, squeeze, several times in rapid succession, and then squeeze and hold again.
In addition to doing Kegels throughout the day, take a few minutes to do some squats (squeezing your glutes on the way up), or lunging, or lying on your side for leg-lifts to keep the hammock tied tight on that end. Then lie down and do some crunches and leg drops to keep the other end secure as well.
Then relax in the hope that before too long you’ll be laughing and coughing and sneezing with confidence and without the need to rush to the restroom.