Women in our culture suffer from a variety of issues related to the pelvic floor that either get ignored or ineffectively addressed by the medical community. As we say a lot at The Tummy Team: “Common and normal are not the same things.” Just because the symptoms women deal with are becoming very common, does not mean that they are normal and do not require special attention.
Use these 5 questions as a personal assessment to see if your pelvic floor is functional and strong.
1) Do you experience any form of urine leakage when you do not intend to release urine?
This can include, but is not limited to: sneezing, laughing, jumping, coughing, running, lifting weights, or working out. It can also mean difficulty getting to the bathroom in time when you sense the urge to go. Urinary Incontinence is the inability to fully control the release of urine. While this has become somewhat of a laughable reality in communities of mothers, it is not normal and deserves to be addressed.
2) Is there ever any increased pressure in your vaginal canal?
This can feel like a bulging, heaviness or as if something is falling out of your vaginal canal. The increased pressure may occur, but is not limited to: while carrying children, having a bowel movement, during intimacy, lifting heavy weights, jumping, exercising or when straining in any way. Prolapse, the slipping forward or down of one of the parts of or organs of the body, is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. Unlike many believe, this can absolutely be addressed with core and pelvic floor rehabilitation and does not require surgery.
3) Do you experience any pain or discomfort during or after intercourse?
This can be including, but not limited to: impact pain, insertion pain, rawness, cramping or sharp pains. Sometimes this presents itself as a lack of feeling during intimacy, including the inability to experience orgasm. If it “just doesn’t feel right,” you need to see a specialist. Intimacy with your partner is important and it should not be burdened with these problems.
4) Do you experience constipation, hemorrhoids, or other chronic intestinal issues?
This can look like but is not limited to: infrequent bowel movements, a difficulty fully emptying your bowels, cramping, or the need to bear down to have a bowel movement. This is one of the most commonly ignored symptoms. However, increased pressure in your abdomen also increases pressure against your pelvic floor, contributing to weakness. Core and pelvic floor rehab can address these issues and return your intestinal tract to normal function.
5) Do you experience pelvic pain or instability?
This can be including, but not limited to: pubic bone pain, pubic symphysis dysfunction, sacroiliac instability, sciatica, piriformis pain, deep low back pain, or hip pain. When your core and pelvic floor muscles lack the strength to help stabilize you, pain sets in.
Rather than accepting these symptoms as ‘normal’ or just living with incontinence products, pain medications or surgery, we believe there is a common cause connecting all these symptoms together. Functional pelvic floor weakness refers to the lack of resiliency of the basket like muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles are the floor of your core and are essential for postural stability and the structural support to help optimal function of your pelvic organs.
Medical and fitness professionals flippantly prescribe Kegels, but that is a gross oversimplification of the issue. The pelvic floor needs to be able to have multi-directional, dynamic movement for all the activities of real life. Sadly, our culture has overlooked the need to address the root of the symptoms, and instead offer incontinence products and surgery as the answer. The Tummy Team will look for the root causes of pelvic floor issues to restore your function.
If you identify with any of these symptoms, don’t simply power through life accepting this as reality. There is a better way. The body has an incredible capacity to heal when given the right opportunity. (Learn more about pelvic floor rehabilitation).