Your Pelvic Floor: Part 1 was all about getting to know what and where our pelvic floor is, what it does, and how to start connecting with it. This week for Part 2 we are going to start looking at some common pelvic floor dysfunctions and some of the signs and symptoms of them. I will be digging into each of them deeper in the coming weeks so stay tuned!
My intention is to spread awareness and education, not create fear or an obsession with symptoms. You may be surprised by some of the signs and symptoms, as they can be common. Maybe you have heard people say things like, “Oh that just happens after you have kids.” Or “Comes with being a woman…”. I am here to say THERE IS HELP! You do NOT have to just live with it. I recommend everyone see a pelvic floor physical therapist whether you are experiencing symptoms, or not. If you need help finding one in your area, you can check out the Global Pelvic Health Alliance.
When getting back to exercise, a Pregnancy and Postpartum Athleticism Coach (PPA Coach) like myself, can help you navigate that process. I can work with you either in person, or remotely online. To find a PPA Coach near you, check out the directory of coaches. Onto the meat and potatoes of this post. We will be talking about incontinece, diastasis recti, pelvic organ prolapse, and other signs and symptoms that there is help for.
Incontinence is the unintentional leaking of urine or stool. Many women experience this and it does not discriminate. Women who are athletes or not athletes, have kids or no kids, c-section or vaginal birth, etc…
There are five (5) types:
- Stress: leaking small amounts of urine during physical movements such as: coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting, jump roping, etc…)
- Urge: Leaking large amounts of urine unexpectedly; associated with a strong urge to go.
- Mixed: a combination of stress and urge
- Overflow: leaking small amounts of urine due to a full bladder; due to blockage or ineffective bladder contraction.
- Fecal: unintentionally leaking stool.
Incontinence can often be improved along with a decrease in symptoms by working on pelvic floor health with a qualified physical therapist.
Diastasis recti is a separation or widening of the left and right abdominal muscles at the linea alba (line of connective tissue right down the middle of your abs).
A diastasis during pregnancy is NORMAL to allow room for the baby to grow and occurs in 99% of women. A diastasis only becomes a dysfunction when it does not heal after giving birth. There are so many factors that can play a role in this, and I will dig deeper into those in a future post dedicated to diastasis.
The distance between the abs is not the most important piece of information. We need to look at both the distance AND the density of the fascia in between. Anything measuring 2cm or less is considered “normal” but you can also have a “functioning diastasis” that may exceed the “normal” range but the tissue can sustain tension and control.
- Coning abdomen;
- A visible gap between the abdominal muscles;
- Reported weakness/discomfort in abs, back, or hips;
- Skin changes/altered abdomen/belly button.
- A distended abdomen, sometimes called a “pooch”
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
A pelvic organ prolapse is the loss of support for pelvic organs that leads to a downward descent. This is something that is not commonly talked about but is prevalent (I had never heard of this before I started my education about 1 year postpartum!).
- Feeling pressure in the vaginal and/or rectal area(s)
- Dragging and/or pain and heaviness in the vagina
- Noticing a bulge or excess tissue
- Inability to retain a tampon
- A feeling as if a tampon were falling out
Please see the graphic below for the various types of prolapse:
Here is a list of some other pelvic signs, symptoms, and conditions that there is help for:
- C-section scars or pain after baby
- Vaginal, vulvar or episiotomy pain after baby
- Painful sex
- Bladder pain
- Pain with sitting
- Genital pain
- Any type of pain or function change after surgeries such as hysterectomy
- Orthopedic pelvis – fractures or muscle and ligament injuries
- Pain or dysfunction at the lower spine or tailbone
[This is not a complete list.]
Stayed tuned next week for information regarding everything pelvic floor physical therapy and what you can expect from it!
I hope this was helpful and educational to spread some awareness that there is help for many things that might be thought of as normal after having a baby or just something that happens to women. If you have any questions or need help in one of these areas, please feel free to reach out by commenting below or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I am available to work with you remotely online or in person in Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts. For more information about me and how I can help you through this chapter, please schedule a FREE 15-minute chat here, contact me directly at kerri@gracefitnessandnutrition or visit Grace Fitness and Nutrition.
[I am a fitness professional that specializes in pregnancy, postpartum, and the pelvic floor. But, I am not a medical professional and am not providing medical advice. I am providing basic information and can help direct you to a pelvic floor medical professional in your area if you need one.]
Stay strong, stay beautiful!