No one likes to talk about the pain “down there,” but pelvic floor dysfunction can make your life miserable. From frequent urination that interferes with sleep, to the feeling that you are sitting on a golf ball, pelvic floor dysfunction is a real pain in the you-know-what. And though it may not be the first topic you bring up at your dinner party, chances are good that at least 20% of your guests have experienced pelvic floor dysfunction. Yep, it’s that common.
Why don’t we hear much about it? Well, again, would you bring it up at a dinner party? And besides, symptoms vary so much that determining that it is pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) takes detective work. PFD even eludes many health care providers.
You may remember Kegels, those exercises to tighten and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. When Kegel exercises we re first introduced in 1948, they were the cat’s meow. Just doing Kegels would take care of any pelvic floor problems… until they didn’t. With research, practitioners and researchers found that many pelvic floor problems were happening because of tightness, and doing Kegels made the problem worse. Having strength in the pelvic floor muscles is important, but so is having flexibility. Being able to relax those muscles is often the first step to feeling better again.
- Long hours on a bike without a proper bike fit.
- Sitting all day, every day, especially on a hard surface.
- A pelvic fracture.
- A fall onto your tail bone.
- Untreated lower back pain.
- Traction on nerves during childbirth or vaginal surgery.
- Diastasis recti – where your abdominal muscles separate in a vertical line around the belly button.
- Stress that makes you want to tuck your tail like a nervous dog.
Think of your trunk as a big box. The bottom of the box is the pelvic floor. Each side of the box needs to have integrity to create a stable container from which your limbs move. If there is a split in the muscle a round the outer abdominal muscle, that “side” of the box is weak causing other areas (like the pelvic floor) to tighten up. Or if you have a lot of lymphatic congestion around your midriff, your “container” is not as firm and again, the pelvic floor may respond by spasming. Conversely, your lower back muscles are super tight and the distortion of the box makes it impossible to activate the pelvic floor muscles. Abdominal scars or adhesions can do the same thing; you may be so tight that you can’t even fire the pelvic floor muscles. The variations are endless.
The really good news: