03 Dec Kegels are your Friend—Get to Know Them!
If you’re leaking urine when you cough, sneeze or laugh, it’s no laughing matter—but there is a lot that you can do to help it. It is not normal to leak even if you’ve had kids, nor is it an inevitable part of aging.
The muscles of the pelvic floor work like every other muscle in your body, they are just tucked up inside, so people don’t given them much thought. Due to this weakness, they often don’t work to squeeze effectively around the urethra, and leaking can happen. They also work to hold up organs like the bladder, uterus and colon, and need to be kept strong to keep these organs from sinking down.
It’s not just women who have had kids that have problems with their pelvic floor—it can happen to any woman. A decrease in hormone levels with menopause can cause irritability in the bladder and pelvic floor muscles, and gravity can help things descend if there is poor external support.
The good news is there is so much that can be done before and after you notice any problems. It is important to get to work on strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, and of course, it is necessary to make sure you’re doing them correctly. A proper pelvic floor contraction is a lift—for example, imagine a ping pong ball sitting outside your vagina and you want to lift it inside. Once you have the lift movement down, try to do 10 contractions in a row. Keep practicing—you will get better strength and control as you practice.
It is worth seeing a physiotherapist who works in pelvic health who will do an internal assessment to make sure that you are engaging the muscles properly, and then give feedback on the strength, endurance and control. A pelvic physiotherapist can also give you exercises to work your other core muscles along with your pelvic floor and proper breathing—breath is very important to train with your pelvic floor muscles. Working the pelvic floor regularly –and properly—can help you get to the point where you can cough or laugh without leaking, and that is nothing to sneeze at!