Emma James Physio Guest Blog #1 : Understanding our Pelvic Floor muscles and what we can do about them
Monday, 13 July 2020
Emma James Blog #1 : Your Pelvic Floor Health and You
The menopause and perimenopause can bring with it problems associated with pelvic floor dysfunction. The menopausal years can span any time from 45-55 years. The perimenopause can occur for many years before this while women are still having their monthly cycles. Some women who go through an early menopause could experience symptoms at a much younger age.
What are Pelvic Floor Muscles?
Your pelvic floor muscles are a broad sling of muscles, like a trampoline, stretching from your pubic bone at the front of your pelvis to your coccyx (tail bone) at the back. They form the floor of your pelvis and are responsible for :
- Supporting your pelvic organs - bladder, bowel and womb
- Controlling your bladder, bowel and sexual functions
How does our age affect muscle strength?
Reduced levels of oestrogen starting around menopause can cause thinning of the lining of the urethra, the short tube that passes urine from the bladder out of the body. In addition, the surrounding pelvic muscles also may weaken with ageing, a process known as "pelvic relaxation.". As a result, women at midlife and beyond are at increased risk, or an exacerbation of pre-existing, stress and urge incontinence.
What symptoms or issues might we experience?
Women's problems and health 'below the waist' are often a taboo subject with many too embarrassed to seek help and advice, and others simply not knowing where they can find advice.
Pelvic floor stress incontinence is the most common form of incontinence. It is caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles and means you leak urine when you increase pressure on the bladder such as when coughing and sneezing or during exercise. As it is caused by weakness, the main treatment for pelvic floor stress incontinence is to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles with pelvic floor training, in fact around 60% of cases cure or dramatically improve by exercise alone.
So how do I exercise these muscles?
To engage your pelvic floor muscles, using pelvic floor training, you should...
- Imagine you are passing urine and trying to stop the stream
- Once you are confident you are using the right muscles you should aim to hold for 5 seconds, relax and repeat 10 times. These are called 'slow Kegels'.
- Then, using the same principle, engage your pelvic floor muscles and hold for just 2 seconds, relaxing and repeating 10 times. These are called 'fast Kegels'.
- Aim to repeat the process of fast and slow Kegels for 5 minutes or 10 sets and do this a minimum of three times per day. As you become stronger you can increase the hold of the 'fast Kegels' to 10 seconds.
What else can I do to support these exercises?
Experiencing urinary incontinence (leakage) should not be accepted as normal at any point in a woman's life and is, in most cases, fixable.
You are not alone.
There are options available to you.
Through the use of tools - such as Pelviva, Secret Whispers and PelviPower, menopausal incontinence is a thing of the past and need not be in your life any longer.
However, we understand that while it is happening to you, it can be debilitating, and some may find their leakage embarrassing.
With this in mind there are products - such as those from the Cheeky Wipes pee and period protection range of pads, liners and pants - to help your menopause incontinence be plastic free, eco-friendly and cheaper as buying plastic pads or pants become a thing of the past! Their affordable range of discreet, comfortable products mean that while you do your pelvic floor training against incontinence, you feel as comfortable as possible.
To find out more about why and how we're partnering with Emma James Physio and Wellbeing, read our announcement blog here : https://www.cheekywipes.com/blog/no-more-oops-moments-with-cheeky-wipes-and-emma-james-physio-and-wellbeing.html
Shop the Cheeky Wipes range here and visit Emma at https://www.ejphysio.co.uk/ for more information and tools to support you through this time.