Are you wondering if your pelvic floor is functioning normally? Pelvic health is not something people often think of when doing their health checklists, but we’re here to remind you to add it! Your pelvic floor muscles are essential for your overall health to help maintain proper bladder, bowel, and sexual function. However, there is a lot of misinformation out there regarding pelvic floor health, and we want to debunk the most common ones for you today.
1) Pelvic Physiotherapy is Only for Women
With the correlation between pregnancy, childbirth, and pelvic floor health, people often think that only women have a pelvic floor. However, this is false! Everyone, both men and women, have a pelvic floor, therefore, pelvic floor dysfunction doesn’t just occur in women, but in men as well. For men, pelvic floor dysfunction can come in many different forms including painful urination, constipation, incontinence, and pain with erection and ejaculation. People of all ages can experience pelvic floor dysfunction, and physiotherapists can help both men and women treat their pelvic floor concerns.
2) Pelvic Physiotherapy is Only for the Elderly
Pelvic floor health does not only affect the elderly, but also the young as well. A study by Ingrid Nygaard concluded that at an average age of 20 years old, 1/3 of female athletes suffered from urinary incontinence when playing sports. The sports relating to these issues are as follows:
- Trampolinists- 72.70%
- Gymnastics- 56%
- Ballet- 43%
- Aerobics- 40%
- Badminton- 31%
- Volleyball- 30%
- Basketball- 17%
With the statistics above, it is evident that pelvic health issues can affect young and fit athletes as well. The repetitive nature of the above sports can weaken the ligamentous, fascial, or muscular support of the pelvic floor, and in turn, account for symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.
It is also important to note that similar to any other muscle in your body, you must use your pelvic floor, or you’ll lose it. Having proper pelvic floor function is extremely important for entering the childbearing years and the premenopausal period. So, be sure to regularly check and exercise your pelvic floor!
3) Kegels Will Solve Everything
Many people believe that pelvic floor muscles become weak from “underworking”, however, it is actually quite the opposite. Don’t get us wrong, there are definitely benefits to kegel exercises, but it’s extremely important that you perform these exercises properly, so that your pelvic floor doesn’t become overworked. When a muscle is contracting too much and isn’t able to relax to its intended length, it will become weakened and won’t be able lengthen or shorten properly.
When people have issues with leaking urine or pain in the pelvic area, their pelvic muscles are likely contracting overtime in attempt to keep urine from leaking or as a reflexive response to pain. Many people think that kegels can help with these issues, however, that is not always the case. As kegels require repetitive contractions of the muscle, they can sometimes do more harm than good. Seek professional help to determine which exercises are best for your pelvic health!
4) It Is Normal to Leak
Many people believe that it is normal to leak after childbirth or with age, however it’s not! It’s definitely common, but not a normal function of the body. Although the pelvic floor often weakens after childbirth, it doesn’t mean that there should be leakage. Similarly, the pelvic floor will become weaker with age, but just like any other muscle, it can also be strengthened if you put in the work. Luckily, there are several resources that can help control leakage. Pelvic physiotherapists can help you better understand why leakage is occurring, as well as provide strategies to help you mitigate your leakage.
5) Painful / Uncomfortable Sex is Normal
Sex should not be painful at any point in your life. It is meant to be enjoyed and if you are experiencing pain or discomfort during sex, there may be a few reasons why, such as:
- Your pelvic floor muscles might be overactive
- It can be hormonal
- It can be related to perineal scarring from vaginal delivery
Pain and discomfort during sex is definitely something to be cautious about. If you are experiencing these symptoms, pelvic physiotherapy can help identify why pain or discomfort occurs during sex, as well as offer you treatment plans that will have you enjoying sex in a pain-free manner.
6) Frequent or Uncontrollable Urination is Normal
Urinary incontinence (the loss of bladder control) is very common, and the severity ranges with occasion. Leakage can take place when you cough or sneeze, or it can be a sudden and strong occurrence that prevents you from making it to the toilet in time. Although many people experience urinary incontinence, it is important to seek medical advice before it starts affecting your daily activities. For many people, medical care or a simple change in their diet and lifestyle can help treat symptoms of urinary incontinence.
7) Bowel Strain is Normal
Bowel strain often occurs due to a lack of relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles. If you are experiencing bowel strain, it is likely because your pelvic floor muscles are contracting rather than relaxing, which prevents your bowels from being released with little to no effort. If this occurs when you are attempting to have a bowel movement, try sitting on the toilet with your legs elevated on a stool, lean forward, and take deep breaths. Additionally, drinking lots of water and consuming more fiber can help with bowel strain as well.
8) “Pee Before We Go”
Many people tend to “pee before we go” or “pee just in case”. However, it is important to understand that if your bladder isn’t full, you shouldn’t empty it. Urinating when you don’t need to can often be confusing for the body and the brain, and the signal to empty your bladder will come sooner than needed. Instead of going when your bladder is only partially full, ask yourself if you really need to go or if you are going “just in case”. If your bladder isn’t full, don’t go! It is better for your overall health to go to the washroom only when needed.
We hope this blog helps you better understand the function of your pelvic floor, as well as some concerns that should be addressed in terms of pelvic floor dysfunction. If you are wondering whether your pelvic floor is functioning normally, our pelvic physiotherapists in Kitchener (Lancaster and Driftwood), Baden, and Waterloo can help you determine the health of your pelvic floor, as well as provide your with strategies to help mitigate any symptoms you may have.
Please feel free to contact our LiveWell Health teams to get more information or to book your next appointment. You can also reach out to us by email or social media and one of our team members will be more than happy to answer any of your questions! All of our practitioners have more tips and expert guidance to help improve the overall quality of your life.