The 6 Pillars Supporting Your Pelvic Health
Our years of experience in helping people to cure and prevent pelvic floor disorders have given us a lot of insight into the best way to protect these delicate muscles. By paying a little bit of extra attention to these 6 parts of your life you can futureproof your pelvic floor muscles and ensure you stay healthy and happy!
1. Pelvic Floor Exercises
We’re passionate about the need for everyone to keep up with their kegel exercises, and the facts back us up! Pelvic floor exercises are recommended by medical professionals around the world as the best way to tackle pelvic disorders. Symptoms like incontinence and prolapse are massively reduced and even totally cured, in just a few minutes a day!
What is My Pelvic Floor?
Your pelvic floor muscles form a sort of hammock that holds up your uterus, intestines and bladder. It is just above your vagina and rectum and keeps these areas of your body separate from your internal organs. When your pelvic floor muscles become too weak, they stop being able to do this.
This leads to conditions like incontinence, where you are unable to control when you wee or poo. It can also lead to a pelvic organ prolapse, which is when your vagina, bladder, uterus or rectum begin to hang down out of your body. Prolapse and incontinence are really uncomfortable and embarrassing conditions, but they can be treated and even reversed by exercising your pelvic floor to strengthen it again.
How to do Kegels
Kegels (another term for pelvic floor exercises) can be done any time anywhere! It’s quite easy to locate and activate your pelvic floor – it’s the same action you would use to stop yourself from peeing midflow.
A basic programme of kegels would involve the following routine:
- Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles then hold for 5 seconds
- Release while counting slowly to 5 and breathing out
- Repeat this 10 times, once a day, gradually building up how long you hold for
Manual kegels are a great way to start strengthening your pelvic floor, but unfortunately most people don’t do them correctly. You can easily end up tensing the wrong muscles, which can strain your pelvic floor and cause further problems. Even if you have located the right muscles, the average person is only able to stimulate 40% of their pelvic floor muscles. This is where a pelvic toner comes in handy – a Kegel8 is able to activate 90% of your pelvic floor muscles!
Which Kegel8 is for Me?
If you’re considering an electronic pelvic toner from the Kegel8 range than you’ve got 4 units to choose from. Wondering what the difference is? The multiple-choice quiz on our website can help you to find the Kegel8 that will treat your specific needs, but here’s a quick guide to each model:
- Kegel8 Ultra 20
- The Ultra 20 is our strongest and bestselling unit. It’s fantastic for treating and preventing all pelvic floor disorders, as well as for general maintenance of your pelvic health. The Ultra 20 features 20 clinically proven exercise programmes for incontinence, pelvic pain relief, intimate sensation and general strengthening. Using an Ultra 20 will ensure that your pelvic floor muscles are kept in fantastic condition and is a great choice at any stage of life.
- Kegel8 Ultra Vitality
- A weak pelvic floor results in reduced sexual sensation; this can put you off having sex as it just won’t feel as good as it used to! There is also the potential embarrassment of conditions like incontinence, which cause many women to feel uncomfortable about having sex. The Ultra Vitality features 3 special programmes designed to improve intimate sensation for both you and your partner. This is in addition to 9 other programmes that work to improve your general pelvic health.
- Kegel8 Tight & Tone
- The Tight & Tone is aimed at younger users; it will help you to build up your pelvic floor muscles to prevent problems from happening in the future. By building and retaining strength in your pelvic floor now you can protect yourself from prolapse and incontinence. Life events like pregnancy and menopause are the biggest causes of these conditions so by starting early you will future-proof your pelvis! It’s also a great way to achieve a flat stomach and revitalise your sex life!
Are you sitting up straight while you read this? It’s pretty likely that you’re not; most of us don’t. You might be surprised to learn that bad posture has a negative effect on your pelvic floor. One study found that kegels get more effective the more upright your posture is. Sitting up straight was found to be far more effective than slouching. So if you’re currently doing your kegels while relaxing on the couch it’s a good idea to try straightening up a bit!
Ways to Improve Your Posture
As well as improving the strength of your kegels, good posture will improve pretty much everything else in your body! Correcting your posture will decrease back pain, anxiety, tiredness, breathing problems and more. Not to mention making you look taller, slimmer and better in your clothes.
If your posture’s been bad for a while, then it’s quite possible that your core muscles have weakened. This makes it even more difficult for you to stand up straight as your lower back is too weak to support you. A good way to reverse this is to try strengthening exercises such as yoga and swimming.
Get a Little Help from a Wedge Cushion
Most of us spend a long time sitting down every day. It’s easy to develop poor habits and slouch, which causes poor posture both sitting and standing. The easiest way to stop yourself from slouching is to use a posture cushion. Our specially designed wedge cushion will keep you in the correct sitting position while keeping you comfortable. The angle of it encourages you to put your weight on your sit bones, taking pressure off your spine and tailbone. It even has a space to put a probe through so you can sit on it while you use your Kegel8!
Vitamins and minerals are the cornerstones of any healthy diet. By making sure that you’re getting the right nutrients you can ensure that your body is at its best – including your pelvic floor.
The Nutrients Every Woman Needs
The nutritional needs of men and women are the same for the most part – eat plenty of fruit and veg and avoid overly processed food and you’re likely to be pretty healthy. However, we do have some specific needs due to the complex things that happen to our bodies during menstruation, pregnancy and menopause:
Calcium helps to prevent osteoporosis; a very common condition in women because our bones are less dense and lose mass more quickly with age than men’s do.
Iron is important to make up for the blood loss experienced during menstruation. Iron deficiency affects up to 10% of women and causes fatigue and dizziness.
Omega-3 fatty acids will help to keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk of strokes and dementia. If you choose to get pregnant it’s vital for the development of the baby’s brain.
Vitamin D is responsible for muscle mass and strength. This includes your pelvic floor muscles; getting enough vitamin D3 will help them stay strong and improve your kegels.
Sources of Vitamin D
It’s been shown that people who get enough vitamin D are 45% less likely to develop incontinence. Good sources of vitamin D include fish, dairy, eggs and mushrooms. Your body also produces vitamin D in response to sunlight! However, if you live in a colder climate you might have trouble getting enough sun to meet your requirements.
It’s a good idea to boost your supply with a vitamin supplement as you may be deficient without realising it. Sunvit vitamin D3 supplements come in strengths of up to 20,000 IU per tablet; ensuring that you definitely meet your daily allowance.
This may be unwelcome news to you, but eating too many treats is bad for your pelvic floor! The likelihood of developing a pelvic floor disorder increases the heavier you are. 44% of obese women and 57% of morbidly obese women have pelvic floor problems, compared to 33% of women of a healthy weight. 25% of UK women are obese, so this is a factor in the lives of a lot of us.
Other Unexpected Effects of Extra Weight
As obesity rates get higher there’s a lot of information out there about the damage excess weight can do to your health. Being overweight or obese has been linked to a huge amount of health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and cancer. There are also the smaller inconveniences that you have stopped noticing over the years – shortness of breath, tiredness, back pain and sleep problems all make being overweight an uncomfortable experience.
How to Lose Weight – and Keep It Off
There are so many reasons to try and lose your extra weight. However, permanent weight loss is something that a lot of people struggle with for years. It’s tempting to try fad diets; there are so many out there that advertise them as quick and failproof solutions. But think about it – the diet industry couldn’t keep going if their solutions worked forever!
Our advice is to try and be patient, making small changes to allow yourself to adjust to a new lifestyle without feeling deprived. There’s no need to try and totally cut out the food you love – just eat a little less of it. Modern technology makes this much easier, with apps and trackers that can help you track and adjust your food intake and activity levels. Your pelvic floor will thank you, as will the rest of your body!
5. Bowel Health
Your pelvic floor muscles are not just attached to your vagina, they reach all the way back to your rectum. This means that when you’re constipated and strain to go to the toilet you are straining your pelvic floor. Strain too often and you could cause faecal incontinence! It’s been found that around 50% of people with chronic constipation have pelvic floor dysfunction.
Causes of Constipation
There can be multiple things that lead you to suffer from constipation; both lifestyle related and psychological factors. By far the most common reason is dietary – a general lack of fibre or fluid in your diet. Constipation is also common during pregnancy; one of the many reasons that this is a risky time for pelvic floor disorders.
Changes You Can Make
Looking after your pelvic floor also means looking after your bowels. Make sure that you’re eating healthily and aiming for at least 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. This provides the fibre that will help keep things moving along nice and smoothly. Other sources of fibre include beans and wholegrains like brown bread and brown rice. Drink plenty of water and try to stick to a routine that allows you to have time to go to the toilet – putting it off will train your body to become more constipated.
You can also reduce the amount that you strain by investing in a toilet stool like the Squatty Potty. Most people don’t realise it, but sitting on a standard toilet is not actually a very good way to go! The posture it encourages causes your puborectalis muscle to squeeze your rectum closed, causing you to strain more than is natural. The Squatty Potty fixes this by propping up your legs, creating an angle that allows your bowels to totally open up.
Did you know that you can strengthen your pelvic floor simply by breathing more deeply? When you take a deep breath, the air in your lungs pushes your diaphragm and internal organs down. This gently stretches your pelvic floor muscles; if you breathe like this throughout the day you will be constantly strengthening them!
Improving Your Breath
You can change the way you breathe with a little bit of effort. Try practising for a few minutes a day, holding your hand on your stomach. Inhale slowly through your nose while counting to ten. You should feel your belly expanding but not your chest; this is a sign that you are managing diaphragmatic breathing. Slowly exhale to a count of ten, then repeat 5-10 times. Learning to breathe in this way isn’t just great for your pelvic floor; it is a fantastic way to relax and relieve stress and anxiety!