6 Reasons to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
When thinking about exercising, you probably don’t think about your bladder. You think about your arms, legs, and abs. You may even consider your heart and bones with menopause on the horizon. But your bladder and pelvic floor? You probably haven’t done Kegels in ages – if at all.
But you should, and here’s why. Strengthening pelvic muscles helps with bowel and bladder control, sexual pleasure, and reducing your risk for pelvic floor prolapse. While those might not be an issue today, they could be as you get older and move farther into menopause.
If you’re still not convinced that pelvic floor exercises should be part of your regular exercise routine, keep reading.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD)
Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) can occur when you lose control of your pelvic floor, whether it be from being either too tight or too weak. Control of your pelvic floor is needed for normal bladder, bowel, and sexual function. Without that control, you may find yourself having embarrassing accidents and not enjoying sexual intercourse.
A weak pelvic floor makes it hard for your bladder to hold urine. In plain English, that means you may find yourself leaking, especially when you laugh, sneeze, cough, or run. It may also cause some urgency and frequency with urination. If that’s not bad enough, the poor bladder control can leave you with embarrassing accidents. Your need for a restroom makes you look like an Olympic sprinter, so you become an expert in mapping out bathrooms in your office building, nearby shopping centers, gas stations, entertainment venues, and every other place you visit.
A weak pelvic floor can also make it harder to hold stool in your bowels. You may not be able hold it until you get to a bathroom or you may experience some leaking of stool when passing gas. At times, you may not know you’ve had an accident until it’s too late. The leaking, whether it be stool or liquid, causes embarrassing accidents that soil your clothes.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
The weaker your pelvic floor, the greater the risk for pelvic organ prolapse. The weakened tissues can let the pelvic organs drop, causing you to develop a rectocele, enterocele, cystocele, and/or vaginal vault prolapse. Any prolapse can cause uncomfortable, embarrassing, or even painful symptoms, some of which may require surgery to repair.
Sexual Comfort and Pleasure
If your pelvic floor is weak, it can prevent you from enjoying sexual intercourse. The weaker, loose tissues may decrease sensitivity and reduce the intensity of orgasms. Lack of bladder or bowel control, prolapse issues, or pelvic floor dysfunction may also make sexual intercourse problematic, painful, or embarrassing.
The accidents and problems that go along with a weak pelvic floor can decrease your quality of life. You may find yourself avoiding exercising, intimacy, and spending times with others. Your self-esteem takes a hit and the isolation and embarrassment can lead to depression.
Menopause by itself is a risk factor for pelvic floor dysfunction, so take control of your pelvic floor today. Talk to your doctor about pelvic floor strengthening exercises you can do at home or ask about a referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist for pelvic floor physical therapy.
This content was written by staff of HysterSisters.com by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support. Reprinted with permission: 6 Reasons to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor