Because the pelvic floor muscles perform so many different and vital functions, when things are going wrong, it can manifest in many different ways. Unfortunately, that little bit of sneeze-pee that happens every now and then is an indication that your pelvic floor muscles are not functioning as well as they should and it does increase your risk of other, more serious pelvic floor issues later on.
It is rare that pelvic floor issues resolve on their own, and without any intervention or changes to your movement patterns and behaviour, they will tend to get worse over time. The good news is, there is SO much that you CAN do to prevent and resolve a lot of these issues, without medication or surgery.
In my experience as a Pelvic Floor PT/RES I have seen that most women don't simply have weak pelvic floor muscles, they are actually TOO TIGHT. Therefore, simply doing strengthening exercises will not solve the problem!
Having a healthy, functional pelvic floor requires MUCH more than just doing pelvic floor exercises. It is a WHOLE BODY issue.
In fact, the way you use your entire body, throughout the day will affect how well your pelvic floor muscles can function.
Use the checklist below to assess your own pelvic floor health.
If you answer "Yes" to any of the following questions, you should definitely seek out a good Pelvic Health Physiotherapist or Restorative Exercise Specialist near you. OR gimme a holla to do an online Skype/Facetime consultation if you live outside of Brisbane (or overseas!).
Do you leak urine with any activity or exercise?
Do you go to the toilet more than once every 2-3 hours?
Do you experience a strong urge to go to the bathroom and difficulty holding on?
Are you unable to stop the flow of urine? (Please note that we do NOT encourage this as an exercise but can be a helpful once-off test)
Do you have difficulty starting the stream of urine?
Are you unable to completely empty your bladder?
Do you experience difficulty holding stool in?
Do you have any trouble getting everything out?
Do you experience constipation and require to strain to empty your bowels?
Do you have ANY pain with sex? Keep in mind that 'pain' can range from mild discomfort to intense, sharp burning pain.
Do you struggle to reach orgasm?
Do you have any discomfort or pain around the vulva (or labia) with tight clothing or light touch to the area?
Do you experience any pain with the use of tampons or during a pap smear?
Do you have any pain with urinating or bowel movements?
Do you have any pain in the vagina?
Do you have any sharp stabbing pains into the rectum OR abdomen?
Do you feel any heaviness or pressure in the vagina or rectum?
Have you noticed a bulge into the vagina or the feeling of something 'falling out'?
Do you have tailbone pain lasting more than one month?
Do you have pain in your pubic bone, sacro-iliac joint (SIJ), lower back, hip or groin that doesn't respond to regular treatment?
Do you experience a lot of abdominal cramping pain with periods?
Do you have a desire to learn more about your body and optimise your pelvic health?
Do you want to learn about Rectus Diastasis management and prevention?
Would you like to prepare your pelvic floor and body for labour and delivery to prevent tears and future pelvic floor dysfunction!
Have you recently had a baby and feel pretty good but want to make sure you are giving your own body the care and attention it needs to recover properly postpartum?
Hopefully you don't have to answer "yes" to too many of the first chunk of questions (but it would be great theres a few Yes-es to the proactive ones ;) )
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, please know that a lot of these issues can be treated and completely resolved! There is no need to suffer endlessly with pelvic floor dysfunction.
If you do want to see a specific Pelvic Health Physiotherapist but don't know how to find one in your area, let me know and I'll see what I can do! But if you are in Brisbane, come see me at my studio in Paddington (or let me come to you for a home visit!).