Guidance about good health is everywhere, but what about the special needs of women?
How to improve pelvic health should be on your “to-do” list when it comes to overall well-being, and here are 3 tips on just how to do that.
1. Take Care of Your Pelvic Floor
Many of us don’t realize the importance of the pelvic floor until something goes wrong with it. Pelvic floor muscles are key to pelvic health because they support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum,1 serving as a hammock to hold these pelvic organs in place. Pelvic floor muscles stabilize your core while assisting with essential bodily functions, like pooping, peeing and having sex.2
Weak pelvic floor muscles may be caused by pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, and being overweight. That can lead to conditions like incontinence—leaking urine or leaking stool,1 prolapse (when your uterus, bladder, or rectum drop from their normal position), and more, known generally as pelvic floor dysfunction.
If you’re having problems connected to weak pelvic floor muscles, or you want to prevent these conditions, then perform Kegel exercises or pelvic floor muscle training on a regular basis.
Some women suffer the opposite: tight pelvic muscles that in extreme cases is known as hypertonic pelvic floor. This is when the muscles in your lower pelvis are in a state of constant contraction or spasm.3 This can lead to difficulty having bowel movements, incomplete bladder emptying, burning during urination, weak urinary stream, constipation or pain when having sex.4 In this instance, exercises to relax your pelvic floor—and your whole body—will help.
2. Practice Good Bathroom Habits
While you can’t help changes that happen as a result of pregnancy, childbirth or surgery, you can take steps to improve pelvic health through your bathroom habits. Your pelvic floor can be negatively impacted by certain habits, so it’s important to be mindful of these suggestions:4
- Avoid constipation by consuming ample fluids and fiber, exercising regularly, and making dietary changes to improve stool consistency. These steps will help with bowel leakages or painful constipation.
- Avoid prolonged toileting.
- Avoid straining or pushing during bowel movements and when urinating.
3. Pay Attention to General Health Guidelines
Besides improving pelvic health, these health guidelines will help with your overall well-being:4
- Decrease intake of caffeine, alcohol and artificial sweeteners.
- Maintain a healthy weight, as obesity increases the risk of several pelvic health conditions.
- Avoid heavy lifting, which can lead to organ prolapse.
- Don’t smoke.
See a Doctor
Your overall health includes taking care of your pelvic health. Proper toilet habits, Kegel exercises, and maintaining a healthy weight are just some ways to improve pelvic health. If you notice symptoms that worry you, and could be weak pelvic floor muscles, prolapse, or another pelvic condition, see a doctor. Use our Physician Finder to find a doctor near you with expertise in women’s health, who can help with your pelvic health concerns.