14 million people in the UK suffer with urinary incontinence, with twice as many women than men being affected. Yet 1 in 3 women will not seek medical help for this very common condition, and those who do can suffer for up to 10 years before deciding enough is enough. Not sure if you’re one of those affected by a weak pelvic floor? Here are five tell-tale signs.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor muscles sit below the bladder at the bottom of your pelvis. They’re shaped like a sling, stretching from the pubic bone at the front, to the tailbone at the back, and also outwards to the siting bones on either side of the pelvis.
The pelvic floor muscles are so called because they literally act as a ‘floor’ for the organs located in the pelvic area- the bowel, bladder and internal reproductive organs. They form a layered muscle with openings- namely, the anus, urethra and vagina- and when you squeeze these openings you can feel the muscles working, for example when you use the loo.
A pelvic floor that is functioning properly will hold the organs in place, and control their normal function too.
What is a weak pelvic floor?
If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, they’re not able to properly support the organs in the pelvic area. Weak pelvic floor muscles will also mean that normal function of these organs is reduced too. A weak pelvic floor can cause many problems, the most common of which is urinary incontinence.
Five signs of a weak pelvic floor
There are signs that you can look out for that can indicate you have a weak pelvic floor- and if you spot them you can treat them.
You accidentally leak pee
Accidentally leaking pee is probably the most common signs of a weak pelvic floor, but it’s also the one we least like to admit to. This is stress incontinence.
If wee leaks out when you laugh, cough, sneeze, jump, run… your pelvic floor is weakened. There are varying degrees of urinary incontinence, and some may experience only a really small amount of leakage during this time. But don’t ignore it. If you leak urine at all, it’s a sign that you could be doing more to maintain the strength if your pelvic floor.
By the way, if you do leak during moments of exertion, we recommend our new Drytech™ incontinence pants. They work in much the same way as our period pants, with a highly absorbent gusset made of many layers. The way these pants differ to our period pants, is all in the anti-leak edging and the Polygiene treatments.
The anti-leak edges give you an added layer of security, because urine has a different viscosity to blood and flows a lot faster. Other pants might not offer this level of protection. And the Polygiene Odour Crunch helps to eliminate smells, while the Polgiene Stayfresh treatment is anti-bacterial, helping to keep infections at bay.
Like our Stretch™ period pants, our Drytech™ pants are multi-size, fitting up to four sizes in one pair, and available in either midi brief or high waist. We’ve got three colour options too: black, light nude and coral pink.
These pants are perfect to wear every day, or just for the gym, or when you go for a run. Where them like normal pants, leak if you leak, then wash and reuse.
You don’t always make it to the loo on time
Urge incontinence refers to the moments where you suddenly and very urgently need to run to the loo. The feeling comes on so quickly that sometimes you don’t quite make it in time. Sound familiar? Another common sign that your pelvic floor is weak.
Again, Drytech™ incontinence pants can offer relief if this is something you’re experiencing, but remember that they’re not a solution. A weak pelvic floor doesn’t have to be a long term issue.
You experience pelvic pain
Pain in the pelvic area can sometimes be an indication of a weak pelvic floor. Remember though, that this can also be a sign of infection, or another medical conditions- so it’s always a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor to check.
You notice loss of sensation during sex
Studies such as this one indicate that “Pelvic floor symptoms are significantly associated with reduced sexual arousal, infrequent orgasm, and dyspareunia [ genital pain before, during or after sex].”
This study found the same, concluding that women with strong pelvic floor muscles have ‘better sexual function’.
If you’ve noticed a loss of sensation during sex or you’re struggling to reach orgasm, it could be down to a weak pelvic floor.
You accidentally pass wind
Another embarrassing sign of a weak pelvic floor, and one that we might not always think is related. But accidentally passing wind can be a sign that those muscles aren’t as strong as they could be- remember they’re responsible for supporting the bowel as well as the bladder.
If you find that you’re not able to hold it in and you’re passing wind without intention, this can be a sign of a weak pelvic floor.
What to do if you have a weak pelvic floor
14 million people is no small number, so remember that you are NOT alone. And although it can be embarrassing to ask for help with urinary incontinence, it really shouldn’t be. 1 in 3 women experience leaks at some point during their lifetimes, so we really should be talking about it more.
Speak to your doctor for advice on pelvic floor exercises you can do at home.
Ask for a referral to a specialist who can help you get to the root of the problem.
Maintain a healthy, balanced diet, drink plenty of water and exercise regularly.
Always speak to your doctor for advice if you’re unsure or concerned about any of the above symptoms. Remember that incontinence products, such as our Drytech™ pants are an excellent solution to help you manage light leaks and dribbles- but nothing is better than pelvic floor exercises or further treatments should your doctor recommend them.
Don’t suffer in silence. Don’t be shamed into staying quiet, and never feel like your only option is to simply put up with it. Urinary incontinence is common and can happen for many reasons, but it can be treated too.
We’re calling on all brands to remove the word ‘discreet’ from women’s health products, starting with period and incontinence.
The intention of these brands might be to provide a sense of privacy, however use of the word “discreet” reinforces harmful stereotypes and prevents necessary open dialogue about topics such as periods and incontinence.
We need to shift away from stigmatising terms, to positive language that encourages open discussions and self-care. We need to emphasise that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
How can I tell if my pelvic floor is weak?
The most common sign of a weak pelvic floor is if you accidentally leak urine when you laugh, cough, jump or sneeze. There are other signs too- pain in the pelvic area, loss of sensation during sex and often feeling a sudden urge to pee.
What are the symptoms of a weak pelvic floor?
The main symptoms of a weak pelvic floor are accidentally leaking pee, accidentally passing wind, feeling the sudden urge to pee, pain in the pelvic area and loss of sensation during sex.
How can I improve my pelvic floor?
Speak to your doctor about pelvic floor exercises that will help to improve the strength of the pelvic floor muscles. Your doctor may also refer you to a specialist for tests.
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