Do you get up to pee (pardon us, urinate) several times a night? Do you leak when you cough or hit a golf ball? Do you leak when you’re simply laughing with friends? Could being intimate be more enjoyable? Allow us to introduce you to the wonderful muscles of the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor health sounds so unsexy, but it can be life-changing, physically and sexually, for both women and men. Whether you’re 25 and had a few kids or 75 and just want to stop getting out of bed several times at night, read on.
What is Pelvic Floor Health?
For an expert explanation, we turn to Occupational Therapist and pelvic floor rehab specialist, Kourtney Randsdorp, MOT, OTR/L.
Pelvic health refers to the functioning and management of the bladder, bowel, and reproductive system. When one of these systems is out of whack, a person is considered to have “pelvic floor dysfunction”. Pelvic floor dysfunction may present as urinary leakage, chronic constipation, or pain during intercourse, among many other diagnoses correlated with bladder, bowel and reproductive anatomy. Often times, the disorders are due to the muscles and connective tissue in the pelvic cavity, called “pelvic floor muscles”, not working correctly.
The good news is that, just like any muscle of the body, there are steps a person can take to better strengthen, coordinate and heal the muscles of the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor rehabilitation can provide a restorative approach to improve functioning, in addition to behavioural modification strategies such as positional changes during toileting and ensuring proper water and fiber intake to improve the ease with voiding (peeing).
Many people know about Kegel exercises as a way to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, but if not done properly Kegels won’t provide their maximum benefit. Let us give you an example: Make a muscle in your arm right now. That’s right–flex it! Hold it there. Your muscle is tightened. If you just exercise it towards your body but keep it flexed, your muscle will only strengthen so much. In order to fully strengthen your bicep muscle, you must relax it by fully extending your arm down, then perform the exercise again. And so it is with Kegels. The relaxation of the muscle is an integral part of the exercise. And let us tell you, we’ve never had someone who can just come in and relax their pelvic floor muscles! It takes work and training. That’s where a pelvic floor specialist can help. True pelvic floor specialists are trained in the use of multi-modality systems (it’s a big term that just means all aspects) that allow them to evaluate how the muscles are behaving. With this biofeedback, training can begin.
Here are some pelvic floor exercises for beginners:
So does it actually work?
Here’s a real success story that Kourtney shared with us:
A beautiful lady, 68 years old, has been experiencing several falls over the last few months. She gets up 4-6 times at night to urinate. She participates in 4 weeks of pelvic floor training that includes altering her food and beverage choices to reduce bladder irritation and learning how to coordinate her pelvic floor muscles.
After participating in 4 weeks of pelvic floor training that includes altering her food and beverage choices to reduce bladder irritation and learning how to coordinate her pelvic floor muscles. Muscle coordination is achieved by adjusting her movements using biofeedback, a computer program that allows her to “see” these movements much like a person can “see” how they are completing bicep curls when looking in a mirror. She learns what the correct movements should feel like and is able to reproduce them without biofeedback for her home exercise program. After 4 weeks of training her symptoms improve dramatically–she doesn’t get up at all anymore in the middle of the night to urinate and has had no more falls!
Talk about an example that shows you how pelvic floor training can change your quality of life. Women, men, young and old can all benefit. Here are a few reasons to seek out a pelvic floor expert:
- Frequent Urination
- Frequent Leaking
- Stress Incontinence
- Unpleasurable Intercourse
- Urinary incontinence
- Pelvic pain
- Prolapse of Pelvic Organs
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Chronic Pelvic Pain Syndrome
- Postpartum Changes
Pelvic health may not be a popular dinner conversation, but it is a concern that can have a tremendous effect on our quality of life. If you are experiencing symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, don’t suffer in silence! Talk to your doctor about pelvic floor rehabilitation or search for a specialist to start work towards your better quality of life.
For more health & lifestyle blogs, be sure to check out Nurse Next Door’s Caring Blog!
Functional Freedom LLC was founded by Justin and Kourtney Randsdorp in 2018. Both Occupational Therapists, their vision for Functional Freedom was inspired by the eminent need they see for Occupational Therapy to return to its roots: function in a person’s natural environment. They believe that a person can benefit from consistency with their therapist, a concept lacking with larger rehabilitation companies. Functional Freedom seeks to assist people in regaining function which can ultimately set them free and ensure the greatest quality of life!