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What is Pelvic Floor Training?

If you’re like most women, you never gave urinary incontinence (UI) a second thought until you had your first baby. That’s usually when the average woman first experiences some amount of bladder leakage, either during a forceful sneeze, a coughing fit, or an exceptionally funny joke.   

If you wouldn’t dream of heading out on your morning run without wearing some kind of absorbent panty liner, you’re not alone. UI is a problem for millions of women, largely due to the pelvic-urinary changes brought on by pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause.  


Stress incontinence, which is the most common type in women, can often be improved or resolved by strengthening your pelvic floor, or the sling of muscles and tissues that support your bladder. In fact, for many of the women who come to see us at Boston Urogyn, pelvic floor training is all it takes to put an end to UI for good.  


Pelvic floor strength and bladder support

Your pelvic floor is made up of muscles and other tissues that span the bottom of your pelvis. It runs front to back from your pubic bone to your tailbone and side-to-side from one sitting bone to the other. Like a strong, sturdy hammock, its main job is to support your pelvic organs, including your uterus, bladder, and bowels.


Your pelvic floor has three holes, or passageways, to accommodate your urethra, vagina, and anus. Pelvic floor muscles are normally wrapped firmly around these holes to help keep them closed. Although the muscles that make up your pelvic floor are normally firm and thick, they can still contract and relax as any normal muscle would.

 

Besides supporting your pelvic organs, your pelvic floor muscles also allow you to consciously control your bladder and bowels. If you feel the urge to urinate before you can get to the bathroom, for example, you can contract these muscles and “hold” your urine until you get to the toilet.   

Your pelvic floor muscles work with your abdominal muscles and back muscles to stabilize and support your spine. When you’re pregnant, they provide stability and support for your growing baby, and when you deliver vaginally, they help facilitate the birthing process. Pelvic floor muscles are also involved in sexual function.   


Strong pelvic floor muscles are important for women of all ages. Unfortunately, many things can make them weaker, including pregnancy and childbirth, being overweight, chronic constipation, persistent coughing, and heavy lifting.

The hormonal changes of menopause can also impact the strength and stability of your pelvic floor.

Pelvic floor training, one day at a time

Having weak pelvic muscles isn’t necessarily a permanent condition. Like any other muscles in your body, they can be trained and strengthened through muscle-specific exercises. The first step in pelvic floor training is finding the right muscles.

To do this, lie down in a comfortable position with the muscles of your legs, buttocks, and stomach completely relaxed. Then, imagine you’re trying to keep yourself from passing gas, and squeeze your anal sphincter. Relax the muscle and then try again. Try to isolate the pelvic floor by keeping the muscles in your thighs, buttocks, and stomach as relaxed as possible throughout the exercise.


Another way to find your pelvic floor muscles is by trying to stop the flow of urine when you’re going to the bathroom. Although this method can help you locate the right muscles with ease, you should not stop and start your flow of urine routinely, as it can make it harder for your bladder to empty itself fully.  


To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, you’ll want to perform Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor lifts, every day. Be sure to empty your bladder before doing the Kegels:

Step 1

Contract the muscles around your anus and vagina and lift them upward. Avoid contracting your abdomen, buttocks, or thighs.

Step 2

Hold the contraction as you count to eight. If your pelvic floor is especially weak, hold it as long as you can. Keep breathing through the entire contraction.

Step 3

Release the contraction and rest for eight seconds.

Step 4

Repeat the “squeeze and lift” process 8-12 times, with a rest between each contraction.


The average pelvic floor training plan requires you to do three sets of 8-12 squeezes each day, with rests between each set. You can do them while lying down, sitting comfortably, or standing, as long as you keep the surrounding muscles relaxed during the exercise.


Most of the women we see here at Boston Urogyn notice some improvement after just four to six weeks of pelvic floor training and major improvement after a couple of months. More importantly, they know how to keep their pelvic floor strong for life. Some patients may benefit from advanced pelvic floor training including pelvic floor physical therapy referral, Femiscan home therapy, or the newest office based HiFem technology, the Emsella Chairhttps://pelvicsuite.com/, which can give you 3 months of pelvic floor contractions in 30 minutes. Schedule an appointment at BostonUrogyn today to find out more.


If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of pelvic floor training, we can help. Call our office today, or schedule a visit using our convenient online booking feature.  

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