Guest Writer, Poonam McCallister, on Pelvic Floor Health
Everyone knows that it’s important for a house to have a strong, solid foundation. The weight of the roof is transmitted through the walls down to the foundation. If the foundation is weak or has problems, the house may begin to tilt, sag, allow water to come in, and may even cause the house to collapse if not corrected. The foundation is what supports and holds everything in place.
What does this have to do with our health? Our bodies also need to have a strong foundation in order to experience good health. This starts with our core. Many people do not realize that your core is far more than just your abdominal muscles. Your core is a very complex combination of muscles that includes every part of your body except for arms and legs! And your core is involved in almost every movement that you make.
What is a Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is the foundation of your core. It is a group of internal muscles that attach to the hip bones and tailbone, forming a “sling” or hammock around all the major organs including the bladder, uterus, prostate and rectum. Much like the foundation of a house, this pelvic floor supports these major organs and keeps them in place so that they can function properly. Sound important? It is!
Symptoms of a Pelvic Floor Disorder
A pelvic floor disorder occurs when the pelvic muscles and connective tissue weaken, become over stretched or saggy, or are injured. This dysfunction can show up in many different ways, but following are the most common symptoms.
A feeling of heaviness or pressure in the vaginal area or a feeling like something is dropping down from the vagina. This is called pelvic organ prolapse.
Bladder or bowel control problems – especially when exercising, coughing, sneezing, lifting, sometimes even getting up out of bed or up from a chair.
Pain in the pelvis, vagina, low back and tailbone area caused by tight, irritated or inflamed muscles. This can lead to pain with sex, pain during movements for daily living and can cause referred pain to other areas through active trigger points.
Difficulty or pain when urinating, constipation, or pain with bowel movements.
Causes of Pelvic Floor Problems
Pelvic floor problems can be caused by many things including childbirth, trauma, surgeries like a hysterectomy, learned behavior, habits, activities that put pressure on the pelvic floor such as being overweight or repeated straining such as from chronic constipation. Athletes, runners, people who lift heavy weights for work or exercise can be prone to stress of the pelvic floor. Diseases like endometriosis and interstitial cystitis can also affect the pelvic floor. There is no one definite cause and it can affect people of all ages.
It’s not just your abdominal muscles that need to be strengthened, but the pelvic floor of your entire core must be healthy and strong. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help determine if your pelvic floor might be causing some problems.
Does bending over to put your baby in the crib/ changing table cause you to flinch in pain?
Do you have to think twice before you roll over in bed?
Have you had to stop going to the gym or stop walking or exercising?
Do you wonder what happened to your belly? Your curves, your core?
Do you move like an older person now?
Does coughing, sneezing or even laughing with a friend cause worry?
Many people are reluctant to tell their health care provider about embarrassing symptoms. In addition, some adults think that problems with pain in vaginal area, bladder control are simply a normal part of getting older and they learn to live with their symptoms. If your house was leaking or sagging, you would certainly get it corrected. Don’t let the foundation of your body disintegrate. There are many treatment options available that can help eliminate or reduce symptoms of a weak pelvic floor.