It’s normal for moms to experience weakened pelvic floor muscles.
Pregnancy, labor and delivery weaken our pelvic floor muscles and so it’s especially important to work at strengthening them during the postpartum period and afterwards. The added weight of pregnancy wears down our pelvic floor muscles and the pressure of labor contractions overworks them. And then there’s the big deal of pushing a human being right through them. Women who experience a c-section are not exempt either, as we tend to tense our pelvic floor muscles whenever we feel pain or strain to move after surgery.
How do you know if you have weak pelvic floor muscles? Check out some of these signs and find out how to strengthen them.
You pee when you sneeze.
Or cough or squat or bend over to put on your shoes. Leaking pee (a.k.a. urinary incontinence) is one of the most common signs of weak pelvic floor muscles. It’s almost become a right of passage for moms, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
You need to pee all the time.
Another common sign is the urge to pee more frequently. If you’re feeling the urge to pee and just can’t hold it in, it could be due to the weakened muscles supporting your bladder. During pregnancy there is added weight on the bladder combined with additional fluid intake so it makes sense that you need to pee more often. But in the postpartum period, you should be able to go longer periods between bathroom breaks, or at least hold it in until you can get to a bathroom.
When you can’t control your bladder, consider using incontinence protection pads or underpants to lessen your worries. This way, you don’t have to be afraid about urinary leakage when you laugh, cough, sneeze, or just move. Having incontinence pads on will make you feel generally more secure and confident; not to mention, it will save you from cleanup after a leak.
You have trouble emptying your bladder or bowels completely.
The inability to empty your bladder or bowels completely is another warning sign to watch out for. The muscles in your pelvic floor are used for pushing out pee or poop. They might need strengthening if you really need to strain on the toilet. If you’ve been using a stool softener but you’re still having trouble pooping, this could be the reason.
Can’t control your farts.
(Oh this just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?) Do you avoid yoga class because you’re worried about farting during downward dog? Afraid to bend over in public or get up too quickly? The uncontrollable passing of wind is yet another sign that your pelvic floor muscles are weak, as they should be tight enough to keep those in until you can release them privately.
Tampons or menstrual cups don’t stay in place.
Inserting tampons or menstrual cups might be easy enough, but if you find that they slip out of place or feel uncomfortable when they’re in, it could be due to your pelvic floor muscles. You shouldn’t need to try too hard to hold your menstrual products in, as your pelvic floor muscles should automatically keep them in place. But when they’re weak, they don’t do a great job at that.
Sex isn’t as enjoyable.
And finally let’s talk about the ways that weak pelvic floor muscles can affect sexual intercourse. Many moms report that sex isn’t as enjoyable after giving birth and a lot of the time, it’s due to those weakened muscles. Since these muscles control the vaginal opening, if they are weak then both partners will feel less sensation. In addition to the uncontrollable peeing and farting, the entire experience may cause a woman to feel stressed out and not be able to enjoy it all.
There’s a bulge in your pelvic area.
This can be a sign of a pelvic organ prolapse. Basically, it means that one or more of the organs located within your pelvis falls through the pelvic floor. It can cause a whole bunch of uncomfortable symptoms, depending on which organs it is. The most common sign is that you will notice a bulge near the vaginal opening.
How to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
There are specific exercises we can do that target the pelvic floor muscles, including pelvic lifts, squats and perhaps the most famous… Kegels. But similar to working out our other muscles, it’s hard to remember and/or find time to do them. And the results are often less impressive than working out a bicep.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy is helpful in that you get targeted exercises to work the right muscles. Plus, there are ways for physiotherapists to test your pelvic floor strength and monitor your progress. But it does have it’s downsides as well. Besides the costs and time associated with seeing a professional, many women also feel embarrassed talking about it and would prefer a more private solution.
Thankfully, there’s a third option.
It’s called Perifit and it combines the power of pelvic floor exercises with the benefits of professional guidance. Perifit is a small, medical grade silicone device that connects to an app via Bluetooth. Once inserted, you use your pelvic floor muscles to play games on your smartphone which actually help to strengthen them over time.
Yes, you heard me right… you get to play video games with your vagina.
It sounds a little strange to stick a game controller up your hoo-hah but it’s the only way to test your pelvic floor strength. Inserting it is similar to inserting a tampon and once it’s in, you don’t even really feel it.
All you do next is get comfy, grab your phone, download the Perifit app and follow the on-screen instructions. Basically, all you need to do in each game is squeeze and release your pelvic floor muscles. It feels similar to doing Kegels, but having a purpose for each one keeps you from getting bored and giving up. Like other games, the levels get harder and harder, so they work to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles over time.
At the end of each session, you get to see how strong your muscles are and track how they have improved. Perifit also keeps track of how often you are performing the exercises as it should become a regular habit. Try to incorporate a few minutes into your daily self care routine and you can see results within as little as 2 weeks.
The thing that surprised me the most while using Perifit was how hard I had to squeeze my pelvic floor muscles to complete some of the levels. While doing Kegels, I never would have squeezed that hard, which is probably why they didn’t work well enough. Having a real guideline for how hard to squeeze, and for how long, makes such a difference compared to winging it with Kegels.
If you are struggling with symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, Perifit is the best way to strengthen them. You get the professional guidance of a physical therapist within the convenience and privacy of your own home. Having weak pelvic floor muscles following pregnancy and childbirth is totally normal and never something you should be embarrassed about. But that doesn’t mean that you have to live with it forever.
For more information about the benefits of Perifit, visit https://perifit.co/.
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