Anyone who has attended Go Mum! classes will know I have a keen interest in pelvic floor health stemming from my own pelvic floor journey. It is also a big part of the reason why I established Go Mum! We provide pelvic floor safe exercise options for mums in a relaxed, open environment where we are free to laugh, cry and talk about the many and varied changes to our bodies since having children.
While I am happy to talk about topics such as my vjay jay to anyone who will listen, I realise I am probably in the minority. Pelvic Floor dysfunction can be embarrassing and debilitating and comes with mental as well as physical challenges. After having my son I experienced the not uncommon symptoms of urinary incontinence but also the daily discomfort of hemorrhoids and eventually faecal incontinence (yes, it is as disgusting as it sounds). So I feel I am well equipped to understand just how difficult living with incontinence can be.
But I also consider myself one of the lucky ones. After having abnormal cervical cells, regular pap-smears, two children via IVF and two natural births, I had become somewhat desensitised to discussing matters of the nether regions (and people looking up them for that matter), and once I realised the issues I was having weren't going to go away on their own, a trip to the GP to ask for a referral to a surgeon was more of a relief than a chore.
While the surgery was very successful and I am now free of hemorrhoids and faecal incontinence (Yay!), I still have some pelvic floor weakness that I am working on with the aid of a women's health physiotherapist. I recommend to all my clients that they see a physio after the birth of their children to assess any pelvic floor issues and to ensure they are doing their pelvic floor exercises correctly. Any incontinence is NOT normal and most incontinence issues can be rectified so you don't have to live with it forever!!
So how do you know if you have a pelvic floor problem? Well, the following symptoms are taken from the Pelvic Floor First website, a wonderful initiative of the Continence Foundation of Australia. You may have a pelvic floor problem if you are:
- accidentally leaking urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
- needing to get to the toilet in a hurry or not making it there in time
- constantly needing to go to the toilet
- finding it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel
- accidentally losing control of your bladder or bowel
- accidentally passing wind
- suffering from a prolapse
- in women, this may be felt as a bulge in the vagina or a feeling of heaviness, discomfort, pulling, dragging or dropping
- in men, this may be felt as a bulge in the rectum or a feeling of needing to use their bowels but not actually needing to go
- experiencing pain in your pelvic area, or
- having painful sex .
It is important to note that there are different types of incontinence, one of which involves your pelvic floor being overactive (unable to relax and so it fails). This is another reason why seeing a women's health physio is a good idea, so you can be confident you are doing the correct exercises for your condition.
Pelvic Floor First also has a great pelvic floor safe exercise app and a pregnancy pelvic floor plan app to give you great exercises to do at home and keep you motivated.
Best wishes on your pelvic floor journey