Pain radiates down my left leg and the constant ache in my lower back is enough to make me scream wildly or break down in tears. Being reserved and private, I suffer the majority of my days in silence. I pray that I will wake up one morning and my pain would be gone and my life would be back to the way it used to be.
All I knew was that I had some kind of back injury, pinching my sciatic nerve, that caused me a great deal of pain and discomfort. It was one of the worst physical experiences of my life. It affected my work, my quality of life, my relationships, and my day to day living. I suffered for many months without having any idea what was going on or what I could do to fix it.
Eight months after the initial pain began I was diagnosed with 2 slipped discs. My injury left me questioning so much, it took me to some dark places and it just didn’t make any sense at the time. It took me two years to fully recover, and to this day I still need to be cautious with my lower back. It was another 2 years before I discovered the cause: a pelvic floor dysfunction.
No, I hadn’t carried or birthed a baby. It was a slew of unhealthy choices, repetitive movements and far too many crunches that literally put out my back. The craziest part was, I would have considered myself the strongest and fittest I had ever been. I was healthy, I worked out everyday, played softball, did a ton of weight training and felt great!
Myths exist about everything in life. People have ideas about things, and unfortunately in this “information age” a lot of false information gets spread around.
Since November is Bladder Awareness Month and urinary incontinence is one of the most common symptoms in women with a pelvic floor dysfunction, I want to talk about 4 medically-proven, evidence-based TRUTHS about pelvic floor dysfunction.
1. Pelvic Floor Dysfunction does NOT only happen to child rearing women.
We all have a pelvic floor and that puts each and every person at risk for dysfunction. Men, women and children can be affected at any age or any stage. It’s true that the most common population to suffer a dysfunction is child rearing women, but it’s important not to discredit that it can happen to any one of us.
2. Organ prolapse can affect BOTH young and old.
50% of women will experience a pelvic organ prolapse in their lifetime. Although the majority of women will not experience any symptoms of this PFD until menopause, it can happen at any life stage. Another interesting thing to note is that not only birth mothers at risk but so are those who have had hysterectomies. When the organs that keep structure and order within the abdomen get removed, suddenly things can begin to droop down and out.
3. Urinary incontinence is NOT a normal part of birthing babies.
Urinary incontinence is very common in child bearing women but not normal. Anytime you pee when you do not intend to pee is considered incontinence. There are several reasons one could experience UI but the most common are abdominal separation, pregnancy and birth, lengthy pushing, damage to nerves in the pelvic area, weak bladder muscles and hormonal changes during menopause. UI is treatable once you have the right tools.
4. Kegels will NOT fix all your pelvic floor symptoms.
Kegel contractions are done to help strengthen weak pelvic floor muscles, but only doing kegels is not the answer to everyone’s pelvic floor concerns. Kegel contractions need to be properly combined with core breathing, and not everyone has a weak pelvic floor. In some cases, the cause of a pelvic floor dysfunction is overactive muscles (they are contracting when they should not or they are stuck in contraction and very tight) or you have decreased core coordination (you are unable to contract your muscles at the right time). Doing more kegels can just make your situation worse!
Regardless of the symptoms you are experiencing, gaining clarity around your pelvic floor dysfunction will not only empower you to make changes but also offer clarity around what options exist to correct the problem and where to find those services.
I recommend that you make an appointment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist and if you hire a personal trainer, make sure they specialize in Core Rehab and Pre- & Postnatal strength training like I do. You can book a free virtual consultation call with me any time to discuss your health issues.
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