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5 Pelvic Floor Myths--Busted!

Myth #1: Doing Kegels while peeing will strengthen my pelvic floor muscles

Performing a Kegel while you pee (the urine stop test), can be a good test to see if you know how to contract your pelvic floor muscles and how strong the contraction is. If you are not able to stop the flow of urine, you may not be squeezing your pelvic floor muscles correctly or they may be weak. If your pelvic floor muscles are working properly, you will be able to stop the flow of urine. If you are properly relaxing your pelvic floor muscles when trying to urinate, you should have a strong, steady stream of urine.


So why is it not ideal to do Kegels while you pee? Doing this often can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction and bad toileting habits. Your body has a reflex to help empty the bladder, but doing Kegels while you pee sends confusing messages to the brain and will stop this reflex from working the way it was designed to. Doing Kegels while you pee can even contribute to frequent urinary tract infections in some people!


Myth #2: It is normal to leak urine after having kids

While it may be common for women to have urinary leakage with coughing, sneezing, and jumping or even have to rush to the bathroom to avoid leaks, these are signs that your body is not functioning optimally. Having a delivery that requires instruments, like forceps, makes you 20 times more likely to have urinary leakage after delivery.


Your pelvic floor muscles control peeing. Your muscles may be weak, tight and unable to contract/relax, or they may not be doing the right thing at the right time causing leakage. You may hear providers or others tell you “to do your Kegels” to make this problem go away.


Kegels are exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor and can help many women. However, if you have any pain in your pelvic region, DON’T PERFORM KEGEL EXERCISES! This can make your pain worse. You may also think you are doing Kegels, but if you are not doing them properly, they will not improve your symptoms. Great news: pelvic floor physical therapist are specially trained to help you learn to perform pelvic floor muscle contractions properly!


Myth #3: It is normal to leak urine if you are older

While age can be a risk factor for urinary incontinence, that does not mean you will become incontinent or that there are no treatment options available. Studies have shown that pelvic floor muscle strength can improve incontinence symptoms. (Siracusa, 2018)


There are many medical conditions common among older individuals that can make you more susceptible to urinary incontinence. Some of these conditions include: having a hysterectomy, menopause, estrogen/progesterone hormone replacement, benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), COPD, congestive heart failure (CHF), asthma, constipation, circulation problems, and so much more. (Siracusa, 2018)


Myth #4 My pelvic floor muscles need to be strong during pregnancy to push my baby out

Now, let’s talk about delivery. The pelvic floor muscles need to be able to stretch and relax during delivery to allow the baby to exit the vaginal canal. You may hear that PFMT will make your muscles tighter and make it harder to deliver your baby. But studies have proven that this isn’t true, PFMT training during pregnancy can actually help make labor and delivery a little easier! But keep in mind everyone’s birth is a unique experience and it involves so many different factors. PFMT alone won’t ensure a safe and smooth delivery process.


Studies have shown that performing PFMT during first time pregnancies has been shown to shorten the first and second stages of labor (from the start of contractions to pushing). (Du, 2015) Why does this happen? PFMT can help you become more aware of your pelvic floor muscles and help you to relax AND strengthen them.


Myth #5: Men don’t have pelvic floors

Although many times, when we talk about pelvic health we hear it in reference to women, men have pelvic floors, too. Just like women, men can get pelvic floor dysfunction. Pelvic floor dysfunction can affect men of all ages!


Due to differences in anatomy and childbirth, women are often more susceptible to pelvic floor disorders, but men often suffer from many of the same issues like urinary incontinence, constipation, pain, and sexual dysfunction.


Even though there are differences, males still have a pelvic floor (made of up many of the same muscles and ligaments as women) that support their pelvic organs and controls peeing, pooping, and sexual function.



Here are some great resources to help you learn more about your pelvic floor muscles:


For providers, check our online courses to help your clients. Consider joining our Ambassador Program and most of our courses are included with your membership!


References

1. Siracusa C et. al. Pelvic health physical therapy level 1. APTA section on women’s health. 2018.


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