Pelvic Floor Exercises
As many women age, they begin to experience pelvic floor related conditions such as stress urinary incontinence and even uterine prolapse. These are especially common in women who have had children. Childbirth places extraordinary strain on the vaginal muscles which can permanently stretch them out, resulting in loss of tone and strength. This can cause substantially less friction during intercourse, making it less pleasurable, and can make women feel “loose.”
Perhaps more serious, however, are the pelvic floor conditions that can develop as a result of this loss of muscle tone. Stress urinary incontinence results from the weakening of the muscle that supports the urethra. Anything that places strain on the pelvic region, such as laughing, coughing or even exercising can cause urine to leak from the urethra. A strong supporting muscle can keep the urethra upright during these exertions, but a muscle that has become weak cannot. As a result, the muscle dips under pressure and allows urine to pass. This is a serious problem for many women. It is not only embarrassing, but it dramatically lowers one’s quality of life.
Women with a weak pelvic floor also develop uterine prolapse. Your uterus is also supported by a muscle. This, too, can because weak, but when it does the consequences are more serious. The uterus falls into the vaginal canal. Often times many women do not notice that anything is wrong until the condition becomes more serious. The uterus will fall further down into the vaginal canal. At its worst, the uterus can be seen from outside of the vagina. At this point surgery may required to reattach the uterus to the muscle structure. Symptoms include the following:
- You may feel that you are sitting on a small ball
- Intercourse will be painful and even difficult
- A frequent urge to urinate and empty your bladder
- Lower back pain
- The uterus is visible from the outside of your vagina
- Bladder infections
- Vaginal bleeding and discharge
If you experience any of these symptoms, you should see your doctor. They will perform a simple exam that requires you to push as if you are having a child. If your uterus has prolapsed, the physician will be able to see if your condition is moderate or severe depending on how far down the vaginal canal the uterus and cervix have progressed.
Although this condition is potentially serious, unless the symptoms are very bothersome nothing need be done. Once the uterus can be seen from outside the vagina, however, most women take action. Although surgery is an option and is usually very successful, it is not always necessary. Many women opt to use a vaginal pessary. This is a rubber, donut-shaped device that is placed inside of the vagina to hold the uterus in place. They are custom made to fit each woman perfectly. Some women, however, find that the pessary irritates their vagina and produces discharge. In this case many women undergo surgery. The uterus is reattached using ligaments. The rate of success is very high.
If you’ve had children and want to repair and re-strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, you can do pelvic floor exercises. They are more commonly known as Kegel Exercises. Doing them daily will help you regain sufficient vaginal tone to help prevent or mitigate the abovementioned conditions. Your musculature should begin to repair within a few weeks. You will notice an increase in friction and thus pleasure during intercourse. Stress urinary incontinence should be improved within a few weeks. Pelvic floor exercises will not only help you prevent unwanted conditions, but they will also help you dramatically improve your sex life.