Five Things Friday: Pelvic Health Edition

I decided to switch it up this Friday and do my list on one of my favorite topics – Pelvic Health

Five things you may not know about {your} pelvic health:

1. Did you know your pelvic floor is a main component of your core? Also, side caveat, everyone has a pelvic floor – it is not an exclusive body part to women :). Continuing on… when most people think about core the first thing they think of is the abdominals and while yes they are apart of the core they are far from the whole story. You can think of your core as a canister, pop can or even a pistoning system (stick with me on this one). It is comprised of four main parts, the pelvic floor muscles, the deep abdominals (transverse abdominus aka TrA or TA), the diaphragm and your deep spinal muscles (multifidus). So while the abdominals are important, if you want a really healthy, fully working, well-oiled-machine of a core you need to look at all the parts. This especially includes your pelvic floor muscles and your diaphragm.

Image from Girls Gone Strong Post

2. This takes me to point two. How you breathe is vital to your pelvic health. Ever watch a baby/toddler/young kid breathe (that has no medical problem)? It’s pretty much all from the stomach. No large chest or shoulder movement when they breathe. It’s how we all naturally breathed in and out every day. It is very common, especially in women nowadays to have little no movement in your stomach when you breathe and even have trouble to get your stomach to move with your breath. It can take practice. Unfortunately the impact of societal pressures of always looking your best, trying to be smaller, don’t let your stomach show, etc. etc. has been awful for the natural movement and breathing pattern our body needs to function properly. See the gif below from Burrell Education’s website, it’s one of my favs.

 Source above

This is showing how our core system works together seamlessly with each breath we take in and out. With an inhale our diaphragm extends down in to our chest cavity causing a natural descent of the pelvic floor muscles and expansion of our abdominals (due to our spine there’s not a lot of movement “back” of the deep spinal muscles, but there is some). Then with exhale the diaphragm returns up in to the chest, the abdominal muscles and pelvic floor muscles pull in slightly. The piston system make a little more sense now? With relaxed breathing neither the inhale or the exhale movements are very large, but they’re vital. If you spend all-day every-day holding your stomach in breathing out of your chest you are losing out on the natural stretch and recoil that your deep core system/muscles need. Add in life stressors that make getting in to a normal breathing pattern even harder.

3. If you are experiencing an issue related to your pelvic floor (e.g. pee a little – or a lot – when you cough, sneeze or laugh, leak a little -or a lot – trying to hold back going to the bathroom with all your might, going to bathroom ump-teen times a day, feel a heaviness in your pelvic area, have some discomfort – or a lot -in your pelvic region with daily activities or intercourse, etc.) this isn’t somethings that’s “normal” just because you’re a women and maybe you had a child or 2 or 3 or 4…. It’s your body telling you that somethings not working right together. Spoiler alert – and you don’t have to live with it. Whether you’ve had a baby or not if you’re experiencing these issues and a doctor brushes you off because you’ve had a child or because you’re a women or because you “just need to relax more”, find a new doctor. Period. This is not okay and you should not be treated that way by a medical provider. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it agin, I’ll say it over and over again. Common does not equal normal. A shameless plug for my profession there is more and more research coming out that conservative measures, specifically Physical Therapy/Physiotherapy is super effective and should be in the first line of treatment. Ask your doctor about it, be an advocate for yourself. The pelvic health specialty is gaining more traction so it’s getting easier to find a PT that may be able to help you!

4. So while both men and women have pelvic floor’s this point is specifically for women. So men, if you’re reading this you may want to skip over it, but maybe not – I think it’s important for both sexes to know about the other, but I also love pelvic health, so my viewpoint may be skewed from a lot of peoples. Maybe. Did you know your vagina is like a self-cleaning oven? Yes I said the “V” word. It’s a normal part of our anatomy, it’s a part of our body. You may not be comfortable with saying it, and that’s okay, but I have no problem saying it, it’s just a body part. Yes, I may still get a little rosey in the face time to time discussing female or male anatomy and other things and issues related to it, but I am a show it in my face, highly emotional person, so even though I am very fine with talking about and saying the correct terms for the nether region body parts, old habits and tendencies die hard. I’m not embarrassed personally to be talking about it, but I know it can make others uncomfortable and it can come through on my face whether I want it to or not. Back to the point at hand. I completely understand wanting to make sure you are being clean and preventing excess bacteria and such from entering your vulvar and vaginal area, but you do not need to wash/clean/douche/etc your vagina. This can actually do more harm than good by upsetting the bacteria in your vagina and making your more likely to have issues. If you feel the need to “wash” up just rinse with warm water over the area is all you need to do.

5. Lastly, a more general tidbit. Pelvic health is important at every age. Pelvic health issues aren’t just reserved for women who have had babies. Pelvic health issues affect both men and women across the lifespan. From when we are little to when we are old. Creating good toileting habits from when we are just learning to control our bladder and bowel systems are crazy important. Then with going to school and the issue of creating schedules around using the bathroom or anxiety of using the bathroom in public. Adding in childhood sports, body image issues, overuse and extreme athletics from a younger and younger age. In general your kid may be fine and do well with these changes, but especially in young female athletes the emerging findings of incidence of pelvic health issues is alarming. These issues often continue through this period of their life in to adulthood. Then add to it if the young female with pelvic issues eventually becomes a mother and you’ve got compounding factors and then that mother hits menopause and it continues… Going back to any person at any age, adult men are not excluded from this or even young men and boys. Pelvic health issues may not manifest in the same way as as females, but they can still happen. Into adulthood the potential for men increases just like women with changing hormones, decreasing strength, and just aging in general. So whether your 2 or 92 pelvic health is important, and it’s never too late, or too early, to start addressing it and creating better habits.

I hope you enjoyed and learned a thing or two from my post today. With me not working, going through these points are as much for me as they are for you, gotta keep the info fresh. Leave a comment or send an email with any questions related to the post. Have a good weekend!

<3 – Brittany

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