The pelvic floor - maybe you never gave it much thought before you got pregnant or had your baby! But all of us have one and a healthy pelvic floor is essential in supporting and stabilizing our pelvis. If you think of the pelvis as being the home to organs like the bladder, uterus (or prostate in men) and rectum, the pelvic floor muscles are the foundation. These muscles help keep everything in place within your body. Some of these muscles add more stability by forming a sling around the rectum. However, pelvic floor muscles aren’t just for helping us control our bowels. Optimally functioning pelvic floor muscles improve sex, including increasing orgasm frequency and strength. They also help us stabilize our pelvis and spine all day long, helping to decrease low back and hip pain. As well, a healthy pelvic floor supports our pelvic organs, which helps us maintain urinary continence.
How do we know if we need to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist? Keep in mind, many of these issues are common, especially during pregnancy and postpartum. BUT.. it is not normal and can be treated!!
Here are some signs that indicate we need to book in for a pelvic floor (PF) assessment:
- feeling of heaviness, fullness, pulling, dropping or aching in the vagina
- see or feel a bulge or like something is coming out/falling out of the vagina
- leak urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising
- leaking with strong urge to void
- frequent need to urinate
- pain with sex
- pain in your pelvic area or a backache
- constipation, bowel strains and/or hemorrhoids
- needing to get to the toilet in a hurry or not making there in time
- leak stool or have difficulty controlling gas
- difficulty in emptying the bladder or bowel
(Many of these symptoms can occur in men as well - just in case the men in your life may be suffering from pelvic floor issues too.)
What can be done??? Many things!!! The most important step to take is to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist to get a personalized assessment. We here at Calgary Maternity Massage Therapy are huge believers in PF physios - refer to our Resources Page on the website for a list of trusted professionals in Calgary. Once you get an assessment, the physio will give you exercises (and not just kegels!!) to progress through so that you will regain a healthy, supportive pelvic floor.
Please don't hesitate to see a PF physio as pelvic floor issues can have negative effects on home and work activities, personal relationships, mental well-being, and social lives. Take care of yourself!