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Regarding sexual health and wellness for women, maintaining a healthy pelvic floor cannot be overstated. Often referred to as the ‘unsung hero’ of women’s health, the pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and tissues that support your bladder, uterus, vagina, bowel (large intestine), and rectum. Not only does it play a crucial role in bladder and bowel control, but it also impacts sexual health and satisfaction. Today, we’ll delve into the importance of a strong pelvic floor and share some tips on how to keep it healthy.

Why is the Pelvic Floor Important?

The pelvic floor is involved in several vital bodily functions. For starters, it aids in urinary and bowel control, preventing incontinence. It also supports the uterus and vagina, which are pivotal in sexual health.

As women age, especially those over 40, the pelvic floor can weaken. This is due to factors such as childbirth, obesity, heavy lifting, hormonal changes, and aging itself. A weakened pelvic floor can lead to issues like incontinence, reduced sexual satisfaction, and pelvic organ prolapse.

According to the Cleveland Clinic (2022), you can feel your pelvic muscles from these three bodily openings:

  • Vaginal opening: Insert a finger or two inside your vagina and try to squeeze them.
  • Urethra: Imagine you’re peeing and squeeze as if you were stopping the flow midstream.
  • Anus: Squeeze your anus as if you were preventing yourself from breaking wind.

In each case, you should feel muscles inside your pelvis pulls inward and upward. These are your pelvic floor muscles.

Signs of a Weakened Pelvic Floor

Some common symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor include:

  • Leaking urine when you cough, sneeze, or exercise
  • Frequent urge to urinate
  • Difficulty controlling bowel movements
  • Lower back pain
  • Discomfort during sexual intercourse
  • A feeling of heaviness or pressure in the pelvic area

If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to seek medical advice. Early detection and intervention can prevent further weakening of the pelvic floor and improve your overall quality of life.

Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor

The good news is that the pelvic floor can be strengthened just like other muscles in your body. Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Pelvic Floor Exercises (Kegels) involve squeezing and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. They can be done anywhere, anytime, and are highly effective in strengthening the pelvic floor.
  2. Maintain a Healthy Weight: Extra weight puts additional pressure on the pelvic floor. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can alleviate this pressure.
  3. Avoid Heavy Lifting: Lifting heavy objects can strain your pelvic floor. If you have to lift something heavy, engage your abdominal muscles and use your legs instead of your back.
  4. Regular Check-ups: Regular pelvic exams can help identify early signs of pelvic floor weakening. Your healthcare provider can also teach you how to do Kegels correctly or recommend other necessary interventions.
  5. Pilates and Yoga: These workouts focus on overall body strength and flexibility and can also target your pelvic floor muscles.

By strengthening your pelvic floor, you can help safeguard your sexual health, boost your confidence, and improve your quality of life. Remember, age is just a number. Being proactive about your health in your 40s can set the foundation for many active, vibrant, and fulfilling years ahead. Don’t let any issue, however small it may seem, stand in your way of enjoying your sexuality. After all, a healthy sex life contributes to overall emotional and physical well-being.

Reference

Cleveland Clinic. (2022, 04, 22). Pelvic Floor Muscles. Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/body/22729-pelvic-floor-muscles

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