It can be hard to know. Between not recognizing when our bodies are whispering to us that something is off, to all the misleading and misunderstood information out there, we may be clueless until our body screams.
My fascination with the pelvic floor came from my use of my own yoga therapy practices to address “sneeze pee”. Otherwise known as stress incontinence. I’ve had 5 kids so, yeah. It happened. The more I learned and saw my symptoms improve, the more hooked I became.
My “Aha!” Moment
My real “Aha!” moment came years later during my Pelvic Floor training. We had to do a self-evaluation – that took hours – and was quite exhausting. That night I woke with a painful ache in my right groin that traveled all the way down my thigh. Miserable. The part that was eye-opening was that I had had this pain many times over the years, and I never knew why or where it came from. Now I did. Upon my evaluation I had found a very painful spot – internally – on my right side. And all the exercises, self-inquiry and me putting pressure on that spot created a pelvic flare. I had no idea I had pelvic hypertonicity/overactivity (tight/gripping muscles).
The reason I am sharing all of this is because we can have symptoms that are obvious, symptoms we are told (often incorrectly) are a normal part of having kids, menopause, etc., and then we can have symptoms that are not obvious at all. Some of the most uncomfortable symptoms may be elsewhere in our bodies. So, let’s first look at the obvious symptoms that our Pelvic Floor may be out of balance.
Common – But not Normal – Symptoms of Pelvic Floor Issues
• Stress incontinence (leaking urine when sneezing, coughing, laughing, lifting heavy items, etc.)
• Urge incontinence (having the urge to pee come on fast and barely making it to the restroom, urine leaking continuously, etc.)
• Varting. Yes, I said varting. Female fart sound that comes from the vagina. (See what I did there? ;-))
• Pain with sex, gyno exams, inserting tampons, etc.
• Feeling heavy in the abdomen, within the pelvis, in the vagina or rectal area.
The above symptoms come from different issues yet the same issue: A weak pelvic floor. A tight pelvic floor is not strong. I cannot repeat this enough.
Sneaky Symptoms that May not be Understood as Pelvic Floor Issues
• Aching/pain in the abdomen, groin, hips, thighs, back and legs.
• Chronic constipation, digestive issues.
• Fecal Incontinence.
Some of these come from a weak, loose floor while others come from a tight gripping floor. Remember, both are WEAK.
In the case of weak/loose, it’s all about the strengthening (and often changing lifestyle habits.)
For tight/gripping, first comes learning to breathe, relax, develop awareness of when you may be clenching or holding your breath, etc. Then comes the exercise bit (and often changing lifestyle habits.)