Thursday, 29 June 2017

I Love My Pelvic Floor and I Want You To Loves Yours Too

Ladies and gentleman, I love my pelvic floor and I hope this will inspire you to loves yours too.

My pelvic floor works so hard for me, all day everyday. Here are 5 amazing things the pelvic floor does for us. It makes sure blood and lymph pumps through the pelvis. It supports the organs inside the pelvis such as the bladder, uterus, rectum and then the digestive system on top of that. The pelvic floor is part of the core system that works hard to provide support to the back, pelvis and hips before and during movement. The pelvic floor keeps urine and stool inside, so we don’t have to wear pads or diapers and lastly it plays an important role in sexual function.
The pelvic floor is amazing! When you stop to think about what it does, I hope it gives you a sense of appreciation of the hard work these muscles do for us and inspiration to give it the attention it deserves. Taking a proactive approach to the pelvic floor really has lifelong benefits and can be protective against developing pelvic floor dysfunction. For the ladies, getting in tune with the pelvic floor prior to pregnancy or even during pregnancy can have positive effects for labour and delivery, as well as recovery.
Now we cannot control everything that happens to our pelvic floor, for example, during birth or after a surgery or a fall, etc. However should a situation arise, having good body awareness and connection can really help in overcoming challenging situations. For example, a gentleman who needs to have prostate surgery. That gentleman could gain great benefits in having a pelvic floor assessment prior to surgery.
Why? Because the therapist can provide great advice on protecting the pelvic floor after surgery, can teach you how to exercise your pelvic floor so that right after the catheter is removed, he can start practicing his exercises. This can have positive effects on regaining control over urination sooner than the gentleman that doesn’t know how to perform these exercises. The same is true for women having gynecological surgery such as a hysterectomy or prolapse repair. Knowing in advance what exercises to perform can speed up recovery and reduce side effects of surgery.
Taking care of pelvic floor is not just about kegels. It’s about creating an awareness and connection to the muscles so that you can take care of them better. We live in a go, go, go society. We are often running from activity to another. There are so many distractions and demands on us. What I tend to find a lot of is tension in the pelvic floor region. The pelvic floor needs to move through its full range of motion to be most effective and healthy. So not only is it important to use the muscles in exercise, but equally important is learning how to relax them and give them a break from their long shifts.

So I thought I would create my own little pelvic floor relaxation exercise routine that you can do with me at home.

Hope you enjoyed this article. Stay up to date with new posts by liking our Facebook Page.

Thanks,

The Pelvic Health Lady


Friday, 16 June 2017

To use soap or not use soap? That is the question.

Let’s Talk about Hygiene

There are many misconceptions and misleading information available online and through social media when it comes to personal hygiene.

I remember a saying from one of my instructors, “The vagina is supposed to smell like a vagina, not like flowers.” Another important saying I want you to remember is, “the vagina is a self-cleaning oven.”

So let’s start off with some don’ts when it comes to personal hygiene.

  1. No douching
  2. No putting anything inside the vagina such as yoni pearls or other “detox” products. It is not necessary
  3. No using soap on the inner lips or vaginal opening
  4. No perfume, deodorant, anti-bacterial down there
Just WATER is all you need.

When it comes to partners, everyone has a personal preference. Some men like women freshly showered and some men prefer when you have a little of your own personal scent. Make sure to find out what your partner likes/prefers. Notice how I said, your own personal scent? Just your body’s natural odour.

There are very good reasons why you don’t want to use products. Firstly the area around the vaginal opening is very sensitive. Soaps and chemicals can dry and irritate the mucous membrane. This can lead to burning, itching and above all, is the leading cause of infections. Products and soaps can change the natural balance of pH and the ecology of the vagina (1). The vagina has a very delicate balance of its own bacteria and fluids that we don’t want to disturb.

The vagina cleans itself by naturally producing and releasing vaginal discharge. This is normal. The amount of discharge will vary among women. What I will say is if you have concerns about your vulvar area or changes in your discharge, see your Doctor.

Now lets look at some specific tips to keep the vulvar area clean and happy.

  1. Use warm water to wash area and dry thoroughly with towel or if sensitive/irritated you can blow dry on cool setting. Make sure to pat dry.
  2. Wearing 100% cotton underwear
  3. Avoid thongs
  4. Ensuring good rinse cycle when doing laundry, avoiding harsh soaps
  5. Use soft toilet paper, no perfume
  6. Avoid nylon pantyhose
  7. Don’t scratch the area
  8. Wash new underwear before wearing
  9. Sleeping in the nude
  10. Wiping front to back
  11. Removing wet clothing, especially after swimming
  12. If you sweat in the vulvar region you can use cornstarch to keep area dry

I hope you found this blog helpful and if you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment or send me an e-mail maddy@thepelvichealthlady.com

Thanks,

The Pelvic Health Lady

References:
  1. Winston, Sheri. 2010. Women’s Anatomy of Arousal. Mango Garden Press: New York.
  2.  Cleveland Clinic. 2013. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/vulvar-care
  3.  Pelvic Health Solutions. 2017. http://pelvichealthsolutions.ca/for-the-patient/what-is-vulvodynia/vulvar-skin-care/



Friday, 2 June 2017

What? There are 3 different ways I can wet my plants?

            I saw a saying on a billboard somewhere that said, “I laughed so hard I wet my plants.” Although it was meant in a humourous way, individuals whom experience incontinence do not find it to be a laughing matter in most cases. Why is incontinence not a laughing matter? Because incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine, meaning you had no control.
          In Canada based on the Canadian Continence Foundation numbers, approximately 3.3 million Canadians have incontinence (1). I’ve read estimates in various studies saying 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 women will experience incontinence in their lifetime and 1 in 9 men. If it is so common, why aren’t more people talking about it and most importantly seeking treatment for it?
         I believe it is because media and even some healthcare providers have normalized incontinence as normal after giving birth and something that comes with age. Just because something is common, does not mean it is normal. There is a shift happening currently where more celebrities and healthcare providers are working really hard to spread the word about pelvic health. I am just one of those people trying to educate others.
Okay so, what’s this about 3 different ways I can lose urine?
            Well, there are 3 types of incontinence that are the most common, stress incontinence, urge incontinence and mixed incontinence.
Stress incontinence: the loss of urine associated with increases in abdominal pressure, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting, running and high impact exercises.
Urge incontinence: is when you get the sudden urge to go pee and you rush to the bathroom but don’t make it.
Mixed Incontinence is a combination of stress and urge incontinence.
What can I do about it?
Very good question. Most women are familiar with the term “kegels” which are basically pelvic floor contractions. But are they enough? And are they right? I want to take the time now to clear up a few things.
            Yes Kegels can be helpful if they are performed correctly. Many women “think” they are performing them correctly but I often see in my practice that they are also contracting compensatory muscles such as the abs, inner thighs or buttock. I also see clients whom are contracting more strongly around the anus, which is great for keeping control of stool but are under-utilizing the muscles around the urethra where the urine comes out. So if you are thinking about trying kegels at home, I strongly encourage you to find a pelvic health physiotherapist near you to ensure kegels are right for you and that you are performing them correctly.
           Now, its important for me to note that “kegels” are not for everyone! In some cases can make your symptoms worse. I see more often than not pelvic floor tightness that leads to weakness. In these cases learning to relax the pelvic floor muscles helps to optimize strength because the muscles can actually move through their full range of motion. So if you are performing kegels and are not getting better it can be because a) you’re not doing them correctly b) you actually have tightness in the pelvic floor or c) lack of coordination with other muscles.
           Lastly I wanted to clear up that incontinence is not just something pregnant women get. Several studies have been conducted showing young female athletes get incontinence too. One study found the highest percentage of incontinence among young women is in gymnastics and track and field (2, 3). This is another discussion that healthcare providers are trying to educate coaches, parents and athletes about, incontinence in sports. It is more common than previously thought and again common but not normal.
           Other risk factors aside from pregnancy for developing incontinence are obesity, surgery, strenuous work or exercise, constipation, straining with bowel movements, chronic coughing and older age (4).
           What about age? A large study of 34,815 women out of Norway found, 10% of women had incontinence between the ages 20-24, 14% 25-29, 18% 30-34, 21% 35-39, 24% 40-44, 28% 45-49 and 30% 50-54 years old (5). Although the percentage of women experiencing incontinence does increase with age, younger women experience it too.
           I hope you found this article informative about incontinence and that it cleared up some misconceptions. So ladies and gentleman if you have incontinence, please find a therapist whom is trained in pelvic health and can perform internal exams so that they can help you. To find a therapist close to you, visit www.pelvichealthsolutions.ca
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The Pelvic Health Lady

References:
1.        Canadian Continence Foundation, accessed n Feb 4, 2017 from http://www.canadiancontinence.ca/EN/what-is-urinary-incontinence.php
2.        Nygaard et al. 1994. Urinary incontinence in elite nulliparous athletes. Obstet Gynecol 84: 183-187.
3.        Nygaard, IE. Does prolonged high-impact activity contribute to later urinary incontinence? A retrospective cohort study of female Olympians. Obstet Gynecol 90: 718-722.
4.        BΓΈ, Kari. 2004. Urinary Incontinence, pelvic floor dysfunction, exercise and sport. Sports Med 34(7): 451-464.

5.        Hannestad et al. 2000. A community based epidemiological survey of female urinary incontinence: The Norwegian EPINCONT Study. Jorunal of Clinical Epidemiology 53: 1150-1157.