Benefits of Pelvic Floor Exercises
The benefits of completing daily pelvic floor exercises can be categorised into: lifestyle benefits, health benefits and long term benefits with much overlap. There are specific exercise routines you can do manually or with an electronic toner (which have specific programmes) to reach a partilcar goal faster. But you will see improvements in all areas as long as you do a pelvic floor exercise consistently.
- Improved sex - Both you and your partner will become aware of your stronger pelvic floor during penetrative intercourse. The vagina passes through the pelvic floor muscles, and as a result you and your partner will feel you tense these muscles during penetrative sex. If you have a tighter 'love-grip' you will have more frequent and stronger orgasms, with increased sensitivity throughout. For men, having a strong pelvic floor can reduce the symptoms of erectile dysfunction.
- Reduces urinary incontinence - For many mothers, part of planning a trip to the park includes putting a panty liner on. However, with a stronger pelvic floor your bladder will be better supported and resume normal functions. This means no accidental leaks as you join in the fun.
Able to be on your feet for longer - If you have a job that requires you to be on your feet for a long time, such as being a nurse, you will often experience lower back pain and are more prone to experiencing pelvic floor disorders. This is the natural effects of gravity pulling your spine and organs down. To reduce your pain and the risk of developing a pelvic organ prolapse, keep your pelvic floor strong and your posture good.
- Posture support - Along with your abdominal muscles, your pelvic floor helps to support the spine. Think BBC - Bum to the Back of the Chair as you do your pelvic floor exercises. This will strengthen your muscles without risking any imbalance.
- Flatter stomach and reduced back pain - Having a weak pelvic floor allows your organs to droop as they loose support. This means they can push against the bottom of the spine and stomach. If you strengthen your pelvic floor, all your organs will be moved back into their elevated place. Resulting in a noticeably flatter stomach and less back pain.
- Avoid a pelvic organ prolapse - If your organs have begun to droop as a result of a weak pelvic floor, your symptoms may be so slight that you do not realise what is coming next. A pelvic organ prolapse (also known as a vaginal prolapse) can become so severe that one or more organ protrudes outside of the vagina and becomes prone to bleeding and infection. It is important to recognise the early warning signs and begin strengthening your pelvic floor immediately to avoid experiencing a pelvic organ prolapse.
- More comfortable pregnancy - Having a strong pelvic floor before you fall pregnant, and throughout your pregnancy, will help support the uterus and keep your bladder from getting pressure put on it which can lead to urine leaks. Pregnancy hormones will be fighting against you, as they weaken the pelvic floor, often beyond it rebound level. So to remain comfortable as your baby grows, keep your pelvic floor muscles strong.
- Easier childbirth - There are many factors which determine whether your childbirth is 'easy' or not. But strengthening your pelvic floor is one you can control and can see definite benefits of throughout your labour. The pelvic floor muscles help to move the baby's head into the correct position for vaginal birth. As you push, if you have a strong pelvic floor your organs will be less likely to begin prolapsing which can feel like a dragging sensation following the birth.
- Short term post baby, uncomplicated delivery - If you have an uncomplicated vaginal delivery, you may be able to resume your pelvic floor exercises straight away. They will help you heal and reduce any swelling you may experience. If you had any stitches, you may find it easier to do your exercises lying down to begin with. They may be slightly sore, but you will probably feel surprised at the relaxation they provide. Start gentle though, you're body has just been through a lot! Hold off using an electronic pelvic toner until you have spoken to your midwife. Do your exercises manually each time your baby feeds to avoid forgetting.
- Short term post baby, complicated delivery - A vaginal delivery is considered as complicated if forceps or a vacuum was used, or if you had a caesarean. You can start your exercises as soon as any urinary catheter has been removed. Even if your baby was delivered via a caesarean, your pelvic floor will be weaker than before due to the effects of pregnancy. Therefore every new mum should begin their pelvic floor exercises again as early as possible.
- Bladder and bowel function - Your bladder and bowel rely on your pelvic floor muscles to work. If you have weak pelvic floor muscles, you are likely to experience urinary and/or faecal incontinence when you sneeze, cough, laugh or lift heavy objects.
Long Term Benefits
- Long term post baby - Once you have had a child, pelvic floor exercises are essential in preventing problems which can slowly arise, such as pelvic organ prolapses. Also known as vaginal prolapses, this is where any of your pelvic organs begin to droop and bulge into the vagina as the pelvic floor is unable to support them. This is very common in women who have had children, and can occur to the extend that one or more of your pelvic organs completely protrude outside of your body. Doing your exercises daily, even for women who have never fallen pregnant, is essential in preventing any pelvic floor disorders from occurring in the future.
Avoid developing a pelvic floor disorder - Think of the health of your pelvic floor as a life long commitment. Giving it just a few moments of attention each day can save you from a lot of discomfort in the future. Once your muscles are in tip top condition, you won't need to do your exercises as frequently to maintain them, but you will still be living the benefits.
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