Your pelvic floor muscles stretch across from either side of your pelvis and from your pubic bone in front across to the bottom of your tailbone like a tight hammock. They hold your bladder, uterus and bowel in place.
A poorly toned, weak pelvic floor will not do its job properly. Women with weak pelvic floor muscles frequently experience incontinence and reduced sexual response. But research has shown that the pelvic floor responds to regular exercise. With regular exercise, it is possible for most women to reduce or completely overcome the symptoms of a weak pelvic floor muscles, no matter what their age.
These muscles can be weakened due to childbirth, injury, surgery, lack of exercise and menopause. If the muscles begin to sag, you could have a prolapse of your uterus and may also have problems with your bladder. Doing pelvic floor exercises will not only improve your bladder control, but also your vaginal response during sex for a better orgasm. Now that’s something to aim for!
Urinary incontinence can have a significant impact on women’s lives. They may avoid participating in their favourite sport or even leaving the house due to the risk of urine leakage. Urinary incontinence can also result in a negative body image and/or reduced self esteem. Despite its prevalence, approximately 60% of people suffering from urinary incontinence do not seek professional help for their condition (2).
It appears that a combination of embarrassment and the belief that urinary incontinence is a natural consequence of ageing and childbirth deters women from seeking the appropriate treatment. Although common, urinary incontinence is not normal and should be addressed in the same way as other health problems, by consulting a health professional. Women should not resort to simply relying on incontinence pads and pants to manage the condition. Treatment for urinary incontinence can be very effective and is often relatively simple.
This article provides information on the different types of urinary incontinence and outlines treatment processes with the aim of encouraging women to seek the help they require. Now in rehabilitating the pelvic floor there are a couple of different methods and even some devices, which means that you have some choice in how you start and how you go on. For some women the mere act of coughing or worse yet sneezing can bring them to their knees as they try to prevent the flow, and even young women are now wearing panty protection for these moments.
The various methods (without using medical intervention) are as follows:
- Using certain types of exercise equipment
- Supplements and Creams
- Kegel’s (specific pelvic floor exercises)
Using Exercise Equipment to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Traditionally we have all been told to ‘jump on a trampoline’, and yes this does work, however first we have to put up with the fact that each and every jump is going to cause leakage. However the latest innovation which is proving to be very effective and best of all doesn’t require that we wear our granny pants to do it is the Vibrational Platform.
Vibrational Platforms have quite a lot of science backing them for many reasons, from increased muscle strength for full time fitness devotees and muscle builders to rehabilitation for stroke and accident victims, and reversing osteoporosis. Now there is evidence this may be the easiest way yet to rehabilitate your pelvic floor! Whole body vibration via the vibration platform works by producing a vibration through which energy is transferred to the body. This causes a stretch reflex that changes between 30-60 times a second depending on which frequency is determined to be appropriate. The special vibrating platform stretches the muscles, which activate Tonic Vibration Reflexes.
Because the Platform vibrates at 30 to 50 times per second, these involuntary muscle contractions happen at the same speed. In conventional training a maximum of 40% of the muscle fibers per muscle are recruited. The Vibration Platforms vibrations recruit between 95% and 97% of the muscle fibers. This also means that the deeper posture and stabilizing muscles, such as the spinal muscles and the pelvic floor muscles are recruited. Results of a Research Study
A study was done using people whose age range was 34 to 50 years, they were divided into three groups with Group A having a determined incontinence rate of 80%, Group B 56% and 60% in Group C.
All three groups showed considerable improvement in mean pelvic floor strength! The conclusions of the study were that muscle stimulation via vibrating platforms improves the subjective and objective parameters of stress urinary incontinence. This treatment turned out to be highly effective and so represents a genuine therapeutic option for patients with stress urinary incontinence (See references at the end of this article).
Supplements and Creams
There are a few supplements and creams claiming to be effective for urinary incontinence, however as they are based on ideas that have been extrapolated from data in reference to other conditions and no research at all has been done in reference to this condition, I am highly skeptical.
However, in order to be fair I had to mention them here. These so-called Bladder Support Formulas seem to be based on the idea that lack of estrogen is the main cause of bladder incontinence and use soy products to try to rectify this. I am not at all convinced that they work and believe that you have a better chance of reclaiming control of your waterworks through movement and exercise.
Pelvic Floor Exercises (Kegels)
Kegels have been around for a really long time and most of us have tried to do them at one time or another. If your like me, I do them constantly (in the car while driving is a good time) and then I totally forget about them.
They still remain one of the easiest ways to improve your pelvic floor strength (not the quickest) and combined with using a Vibration Platform have been proven to be the most effective and quickest way to regain control and stimulate better sexual function. How to do unassisted pelvic floor exercises (kegel exercises) Exercise 1 Sit in a firm chair and concentrating on your pelvic floor muscles, tighten the muscles around your back passage, vagina and front passage and lift up inside as if trying to stop passing wind and urine at the same time. It is very easy to bring other, irrelevant muscles into play, so try to isolate your pelvic floor as much as possible by
- not pulling in your tummy, .
- not squeezing your legs together, .
- not tightening your buttocks and .
- not holding your breath.
The effort should be coming from the pelvic floor.
For how many seconds can you hold the pelvic floor tight? Try holding it as long and as hard as you can. Build up to a maximum of 10 seconds. Rest for 4 seconds and then repeat the contraction as many times as you can up to a maximum of 10 contractions.
Try to do these exercises in a slow and controlled way with a rest of 4 seconds between each muscle contraction. Practice your maximum number of held contractions (up to 10) about six times each day.
Exercise 2 The ability to work these muscles quickly helps them react to sudden stresses from coughing, laughing or exercise. Practice some quick contractions, drawing in the pelvic floor and holding for just one second before releasing the muscles. Do these steadily, aiming for a strong muscle tightening with each contraction up to a maximum of 10 times.
Try to do one set of slow contractions (exercise 1) followed by one set of quick contractions (exercise 2) six times each day. If you do pelvic floor exercises regularly, you will see optimum results within 3 to 6 months, but you should continue them for life to fully protect your pelvic floor.
It can also help to stop the flow of urine while you’re on the toilet, please wait until the first rush is over, then tighten your pelvic floor and stop and start 2 to 3 times. This has an added benefit of helping you to determine just which muscles to use while doing the Kegels.
P.S. This is a great exercise for the man in your life and can actually help prevent prostate problems, get him to do this at least once a day first thing in the morning. Tell him it will keep his sex life active for longer, which it will. Pelvic Floor Exercisers These interesting little devices come in all shapes and sizes, the best of them can be found at reputable clinics that specialize in this kind of thing. They are used because many women find it difficult to isolate the muscles involved in doing Kegels, and often they feel uncertain about whether the exercises are working and whether they are doing them correctly, particularly in the early stages The use of devices can help address some of these problems and encourage women to continue their pelvic floor fitness and strengthening regimes. Most importantly many women find that using a pelvic floor exercise device produces better results than unassisted exercising, so they are encouraged to keep going. Exercisers also provide ‘resistance’. Body builders build strong biceps by using weights or resistance training, the same applies to your pelvic floor.
1. Cardinale M, Bosco C. The use of vibration as an exercise intervention. Exerc Sport Sci Rev. 2003; 31: 3-7.
2. Rittweger J, Just K, Kautzsch K, Reeg P, Felsenberg D. Treatment of chronic Lower back pain with lumbar extension and whole-body vibration exercise: a randomizedcontrolled trial. Spine. 2002; 27: 1829-34