It’s just as important to take care of your pelvic floor in your 20s as it is in your 30s, 40s or 50s. The most important thing is to get started right now. It’s never too early or too late to start taking care of your pelvic floor health.
- What is your pelvic floor?
- Pelvic floor health in your 20s
- Pelvic floor health and pregnancy
- Pelvic floor health during menopause
- How to take care of your pelvic floor
What is your pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor is a layer of muscles that sits between your tailbone and pubic bone. These muscles support your pelvic organs — this includes your bladder, bowel, and uterus. And are important for urinary control, bowel control, and postnatal recovery.
If these muscles become overstretched, it can lead to:
- urinary incontinence
- decreased sexual sensation
- pelvic organ prolapse (POP)
Pelvic floor health in your 20s
Your pelvic muscles are usually at peak health in your 20s. But it’s still very important to take care of your pelvic health from a young age. High-intensity exercise, heavy lifting, excessive sex, or being overweight can lead to pelvic floor damage. If this happens, common symptoms include:
- urine leaking when you cough or sneeze.
- frequent constipation.
- lower back pain.
- discomfort during sex
So it’s recommended to start pelvic strengthening exercises, like Kegel exercises, in your 20s — a pelvic floor trainer can help.
Pelvic floor health and pregnancy
During childbirth, your vagina and pelvic floor muscles can stretch excessively. In fact, 70% of expectant and new moms' suffer from pelvic floor-related issues. To minimise your risk of incontinence after pregnancy, you should start pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy. Or even if you’re planning to get pregnant. A strong pelvic floor might even help ease childbirth.
Pelvic floor health during menopause
Common menopause symptoms include hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings. But less commonly talked about is a weakened pelvic floor — over 50% of all menopausal women suffer from urinary incontinence.
This happens because of dropping oestrogen levels — which helps keep your pelvic floor healthy and tight. Some signs your pelvic floor is weak includes:
- urinary incontinence
- a persistent urge to pee
- painful urination
- pelvic pain or discomfort — especially during sex
- lower back pain
It’s never too late to start working on strengthening your pelvic floor. Menopause might be inevitable but the complications that might result from a weakened pelvic floor don’t have to be.
How to take care of your pelvic floor
The best ways to help keep your pelvic floor healthy include:
- staying active
- eating a healthy diet
- maintaining a healthy weight
- avoiding very heavy lifting
- not smoking
- doing Kegel exercises
What exactly are Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises are exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. They involve contracting and releasing your pelvic floor muscles in a series of exercises.
If you’ve never done Kegels before, the first thing to do is find the correct muscles. You can do this by attempting to stop your pee mid-flow. It’s also important to make sure you’re “lifting” up your muscles and not “pushing” down — a pelvic floor trainer like the Elvie trainer can help with this.
It’s important that you’re consistent with your exercises — three sets of five repetitions a day is a great way to start.
Recommended listening for you
Brown, J. S., Grady, D., Ouslander, J. G., Herzog, A. R., Varner, R. E., & Posner, S. F. (1999). Prevalence of urinary incontinence and associated risk factors in postmenopausal women. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 94(1), 66-70.
Marques, A., Stothers, L., & Macnab, A. (2010). The status of pelvic floor muscle training for women. Canadian Urological Association Journal, 4(6), 419.
National Health Services (2018). Women's health: What are pelvic floor exercises?. Retrieved 30 April 2019 from https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/womens-health/what-are-pelvic-floor-exercises/.
Neels, H., Tjalma, W. A., Wyndaele, J. J., De Wachter, S., Wyndaele, M., & Vermandel, A. (2016). Knowledge of the pelvic floor in menopausal women and in peripartum women. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 28(11), 3020-3029.
Tosun, Ö. Ç., Mutlu, E. K., Tosun, G., Ergenoglu, A. M., Yeniel, A. Ö., Malkoç, M., ... & Itil, I. M. (2015). Do stages of menopause affect the outcomes of pelvic floor muscle training?. Menopause, 22(2), 175-184.