Hey there friends! We’re back celebrating Women’s Health Month with a focus on another important issue – PELVIC HEALTH. No matter your age, an awareness of your pelvic health and its connection to your overall wellbeing is so important! A lot of you are probably thinking urinary leakage or incontinence when you hear the term “pelvic health”. Well, I’m here to tell you, it’s about way more than that!
Not only is a healthy pelvis imperative for maintaining control of bladder and bowel function, but it also plays an important role in sexual health, proper positioning of pelvic organs, and as a part of our “core”, our pelvic floor provides spinal support along with our abdomen and low back. Common signs or symptoms of a pelvic health disorder include the following:
- Urinary or fecal incontinence
- Over-active bladder (OAB)
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Painful intercourse
- Sagging or bulging of the pelvic organs into the vagina
- Low back or hip pain
Disorders may stem from issues with the pelvic floor – a group of muscles located in your pelvis which stretch like a hammock from the pubic bone to the tail bone and from side to side. Problems can arise if the muscles are either too weak (hypotonic) or too strong (hypertonic). Childbirth is one of the main causes of pelvic floor disorders in women. Other contributing factors include menopause or other hormonal disruptions, prior surgery or pelvic radiation, heavy lifting and straining, constipation, obesity, connective tissue disorders and aging.
Unfortunately, many women often avoid seeking care for pelvic health issues due to feelings of embarrassment or prioritization of other responsibilities. Others may continue to suffer secondary to a belief that their symptoms are simply an unavoidable part of the aging process. But when it comes to pelvic floor disorders, the truth is that they are quite common. In fact, research has found that up to ~40% of women experience a pelvic health issue, such as urinary or fecal incontinence, OAB, or pelvic organ prolapse during their lifetime. If we add sexual health disorders, this number only gets higher.
On a brighter note, there are many treatment options available for the array of problems that can arise due to less-than-optimal pelvic health. From adopting healthy lifestyle habits to pelvic floor therapy or medications, solutions abound! Just as you might exercise and eat well to prevent heart disease, you can also adopt habits to improve your pelvic health! Here are some steps you can take to ensure a healthy pelvis at any age:
- Avoid constipation by consuming plenty of water and fiber – and make it a point to talk to your HCP if you’re struggling.
- Avoid straining during bowel movements.
- Use proper technique when lifting heavy objects.
- Maintain a strong pelvic floor with exercises such as Kegels.
- Make sure to balance this strength with adequate relaxation.
- Decrease intake of caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners.
- Avoid tobacco.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
Remember friends, pelvic health issues should NOT be accepted as a normal and unavoidable part of aging. If you have a pelvic health issue, you are far from alone and don’t need to suffer in silence! So, take the first step today and schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns with your health care provider or one trained in women’s pelvic health.