On so many occasions I have been talking about pelvic floor exercises to a group of women and one of the regular responses I receive is, ‘ I have not had children so this is really not a topic relevant to me.’ There are an incredible amount of urban myths about pelvic floor exercises and this is one of the biggest! Women who have not had children are still prone to urine leakage throughout their life. With 24 % of women in Australia in their reproductive years remaining child free, this is a whole subsection of society being neglected.
When we are younger there are lots of activities that can impact on anyone’s pelvic floor: constipation, chronic coughing, always holding your breath. Basically anytime you increase the pressure in your abdominal cavity by bearing down you can impact your pelvic floor. Certain sports also have an impact; trampolining, horse riding and gymnastics to name a few. Many of these sports create a very strong pelvic floor but it is constantly turned on. Any muscle that is over active is not a functional muscle, and with pelvic floor, non-functioning can lead to leaking urine.
One thing that is inevitable in a woman’s life is menopause. When we head into menopause our hormone levels change. Oestrogen is a female defining hormone, it gives us our breasts, periods, and our waisted shape (this is why our waist thickens after menopause) and it affects how muscles contract and heal. The change in oestrogen affects the pelvic floor in two ways:
- Your pelvic floor does not contract or heal as well, and
- Your pelvic floor can atrophy (waste) by up to 1% a year post menopause.
So with your pelvic floor getting thinner and not contracting as well you are leaving yourself open to leaking urine. If you do not work it, you will loose it!
My biggest bit of advice on pelvic floor health is ‘prevention is better than cure.’ As much as this all sounds very grim there is a simple solution – look after your pelvic floor. Start doing pelvic floor exercises! It does not take much time, but it can have a huge impact on your future life as well as your current one. Did you know that some studies have suggested that pelvic floor muscle strength may be related to increased sensation and sexual satisfaction? So why ignore your pelvic floor? Take control and make it work for you.
For instructions on how to work your pelvic floor head over to WHEN (www.when.org.au) and download your free information sheet on how to preform pelvic floor exercises.
One of our pelvic floor workshops setup to go.