….and it’s not necessarily childbirth. Remember we are built to give birth …the vagina is a very stretchy tube that can accomodate a tampon, a penis or a baby- and at rest it’s walls rest together. It is NOT a muscle , the pelvic floor muscles surround and support it at the lower end. Whilst some women do unfortunately suffer pelvic floor damage during childbirth, there are many other causes of pelvic floor dysfunction. Many women who experience symptoms of leaking, prolapse or lack of sexual sensation have never had children.
Here are some of the other main causes of pelvic floor damage:
Constipation: Straining on the loo and poor bowel habits are major causes of stretching and weakening your pelvic muscles. Learn better bowel habits and correct way of sitting and emptying your bowel
Gym- excessive overuse of abdominals: Do you crunch and bounce and lift your way through your gym workout? This will be placing undue downwards forces on your pelvic organs , and the supportive fascial or elastic issue. Learn the correct way of activating your core ( see blog getting to the core of things)
Lifting: Does your work or your every day activities mean you are lifting repetitively or loads that are too heavy for you? Learn to lighten the load and lift correctly.
Coughing: Do you have a smokers cough ? easy answer here - give up ! If you are asthmatic , have any other chronic lung condition or suffer from hayfever -make sure you get your management plan up to date with your medical practitioner to help reduce your coughing and sneezing.
Posture: Do you slump ? Poor posture switches off the core muscles (remember the pelvic floor muscles are part of the core) good posture switches them on - here is some free exercise for you – stand or sit in correct posture and your core will be working – think tall and long, balance your head over your chest and pelvis : but don’t hold yourself rigid , you don’t want to look like a kewpie doll on a stick!
Genetics: Unfortunately here is one we can’t do anything about . If your mother or sister has a prolapse then you have a greater chance than normal of following suit. It is all to do with the cellular makeup of your stretchy tissues. Be aware and be educated. Lessen your chances by changing the risk factors that you can do something about, just like you should if heart disease is in the family – you can’t change genetics but you can manage your risk factors.
Treat your pelvic floor with respect – it is the centre of your support structure.