Contrary to popular belief, it's not only pregnant and older women who have to be on the lookout for signs of pelvic floor weakness. Anyone at any age can have a weak pelvic floor—even if you're in the best shape of your life and do squats and kegels religiously.
In fact, unlike many other muscles in your body, your pelvic floor muscles are working out pretty much all the time and are responsible for these five important functions:
Stability and movement. Helps with movement of the pelvis, back, hips, and legs.
Continence. Proper bladder and bowel function; prevents leaking.
Sexual function. Facilitates orgasms and erections.
Organ support. Supports the bladder, uterus, and bowels as well as the abdominal organs.
Lymphatic or circulatory function. Helps with circulation and venous return from the legs to the trunk.
So, with the knowledge of what your pelvic floor muscles are doing, it's easy to see how you can actually overtrain them, leading to chronic tightness, pelvic floor dysfunction and pain, including increased pain during sex, urinary frequency and urgency.
Of course, urinary issues can also be the only sign of a weak pelvic floor and while it's the most cited indication of pelvic floor dysfunction, it's not the only one.
Today, we're going to talk about the signs of pelvic floor weakness, and then tell you what you can do about it.
5 Signs of Pelvic Floor Weakness
Urinary dysfunction. If you find yourself leaking urine or having to pee frequently, you could have a weak pelvic floor. Or, you could have a too tight pelvic floor. The only way to know for sure is to talk to your doctor and/or see a pelvic floor physiotherapist.
- Constipation/straining to defecate. If you're not going to the bathroom regularly or have to strain to poop, this could be a sign of pelvic floor weakness.
- Wind. From both holes. Regularly passing gas from your anus or vagina when you go from bending down to standing up can be a sign of pelvic floor weakness.
Reduced vaginal sensation. Can't feel as much down there as you used to? Pelvic floor dysfunction may be the culprit. This can effect how excited you are about having sex at all, which can be anxiety provoking.
Leaking when sneezing, coughing, jumping or running. Yeah, it's a thing, and not just for women who are pregnant or who have had multiple kids.
Causes of Pelvic Floor Weakness
The causes of pelvic floor weakness are not limited to childbirth. Again, let's remember that pelvic floor weakness can happen to anyone and, in addition to pregnancy, it can be the result of many stressors, including:
What to Do About a Weak Pelvic Floor
This means that unless you already know you have a weak pelvic floor and have been told you do by a healthcare professional, you should see a healthcare professional and not try to diagnose yourself. Get thee to a doctor or other specialist.
However, if you know you have a weak pelvic floor, there's a lot that can be done to help you, including:
Kegels. These are a gold standard for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles—but you’ve got to know how to do them right. Find out more here.
Stretches. We talked to a pelvic floor physiotherapist to get the best pelvic floor stretches—which are also the best exercises for a tight pelvic floor. Read all about it here.
Yoga poses. We’ve also written a blog on the best yoga poses for improving pelvic strength. You can sign up for a free trial of BR+ now and score access to hundreds of yoga classes that will help improve the condition of not only your pelvic floor, but your whole body.
In the meantime, don't lose hope. Yes, a weak pelvic floor can affect your everyday life but up to 75% of people who seek treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction will see significant improvement.
If you're looking for a yoga mat and stretchy things to help in this area, check out our Total Stability & Resistance Bundle! All of this for under $115, PLUS: you can get 25% OFF this price until Monday, July 26, as part of our Summer Blowout Sale.