Building strength and increasing your muscle tone goes well beyond lifting and lunges. For starters? Your pelvic floor. This key group of muscles supports the bladder, bowels, and uterus and plays an integral role in everything from continence to pregnancy to sexual function — and it often gets pushed aside when it comes to your overall health and wellness.
Common Pelvic Floor Disorders
Pelvic floor dysfunction is more common than you might think — about half of all women will develop some type of disorder as a result of weakened pelvic muscles floor in their lifetime. And a variety of factors can be attributed to their weakened state including pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, genetics, heavy lifting, chronic coughing, and an increase in age.
Primary pelvic floor conditions include:
- Urinary incontinence: This can include stress incontinence (leaking urine when sneezing, coughing, or laughing) due to a lack of support to the urethra and bladder neck or urge incontinence (being struck with the sudden need to urinate with little warning).
- Fecal incontinence: Symptoms consist of the sudden urge to have a bowel movement or periodically leaking stool from the rectum.
- Pelvic organ prolapse: A prolapse can be a result of childbirth and occurs when one or more pelvic organs drop or press into or out of the vagina due to weakened or damaged muscles. This can lead to discomfort, problems with sexual activity, and bowel and bladder dysfunction.
Treatment Options for Pelvic Floor Disorders
Unfortunately, some women spend years suffering in silence before seeking treatment for a pelvic floor condition, but many of these disorders are easily treatable.
Kegels are perhaps the most well-known pelvic floor exercise for certain conditions and require the same muscle control that you might use to stop the flow of urine. A good rule of thumb for Kegels is to squeeze for three seconds and release for three seconds for a set of 10, working up to doing this two or three times a day. This exercise can also help keep your pelvic floor strong, preventing common conditions that may occur later in life.
Other treatment options may include pelvic floor retraining through biofeedback, physical therapy, medication, or in some cases, minimally invasive surgery.
Baptist Health also offers a course called Total Control, a medically-based exercise program created by urogynecology experts and physical therapists, which is designed to help women strengthen the core muscles essential for bladder control and quality of life. Learn more at BaptistJax.com.
Most importantly, speak to your doctor about any concerns you may have and to develop the right treatment plan for your needs.
Call BeachesOBGYN at (904) 241-9775 to schedule an appointment.