Pelvic Floor Exercises

Pelvic floor exercises are very important for all women, but especially during and after pregnancy.

Giving birth is going to stretch out your pelvic floor muscles, which can weaken them, so you are going to need to build up their strength again to lessen the chances of developing Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) as you get older.

Many older women suffer from SUI which often involves passing a small amount of urine when they cough or sneeze and not being able to hold urine in so well.

Exercising the pelvic floor muscles is not just for pregnant women or those who have recently given birth though. It should be an ongoing habit for all women because the weakening of these muscles in older age can happen to any woman.

So, let’s answer some common questions:

Where Is Your Pelvic Floor?

Many women are unsure where these muscles are, and until you know, you can’t exercise them.The pelvic floor is the sling of muscles that form the base of the pelvis. Basically, all the muscular tissues that surround your vagina and anus. You use these muscles when you stop yourself weeing or passing wind.

If you are unsure where they are, try stopping your urine flow next time you use the toilet. The muscles you use to do this are your pelvic floor muscles. However, don’t try stopping your urine flow regularly as this can cause you to retain urine in your bladder which is not good.

Do Pelvic Floor Exercises Work?

Exercising the pelvic floor strengthens the muscles that are used to stop yourself passing urine when you are not supposed to. When you cough or sneeze, high pressure increases in your abdomen, but a strong pelvic floor will enable you to tighten your muscles and prevent a urine leak at this time.

Trials have been carried out on treatments for SUI and pelvic floor exercises proved to be the most successful.

What Do The Exercises Involve?

Having identified where your pelvic floor muscles are, you can begin to exercise them. Slow and fast exercises are beneficial.

You can gradually tighten the muscles bit by bit while you count to 10 until they are fully contacted. Then hold them tight and count to 10. Then gradually relax them bit by bit as you count to 10. This should be repeated 4-6 times and carried out about 6 times during the day.

For fast exercises you can tighten the muscles more suddenly and count to 2 or 3 and then relax them and count to 2, then tighten again, repeating about 10 times. Again, this should be done around 6 times during the day.

It can be difficult to remember to do pelvic floor exercises so you can try different ways to remind yourself:

1. You can use a chart to tick off when you have done the exercises throughout the day.

2. You can use prompts to remind you like putting the kettle on, washing your hands, travelling in the car, or anything else you do regularly.

Benefits Of Pelvic Floor Exercises

1. Unlike going to the gym or swimming, you don’t have to pay to exercise your pelvic floor.

2. Exercises are easy and quick.

3. You can do them without anyone knowing.

4. You can do them wherever you are.

5. You will be less likely to develop SUI as you get older.

Pelvic floor exercises are for life, and it won’t be now that you notice the benefits so much, but an obstetrician said to me ‘make sure you do your pelvic floor exercises, you won’t notice it now, but you will when you’re 50!’

If I’m honest, I find it difficult to remember to do them as regularly as I should, but it is worth us all trying our hardest to keep up a good habit of doing them, as we will all benefit in years to come.

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