‘Pelvic floor’ is a buzz term at the moment, but many people still don’t understand what it actually is.
The pelvic floor is a sheet of muscles that sit like a trampoline at the base of your pelvis and support your pelvic organs: the bladder, the uterus, and the bowel. When functioning correctly, the pelvic floor muscles play a role in:
- Holding urine when we aren’t near a toilet or when coughing, jumping, laughing, etc.
- Holding bowel movements
- Increasing sexual arousal and reaching orgasm
- Holding a tampon in
- Core stability
How do you know if you have pelvic floor issues?
Just like any other muscle in the body, the pelvic floor can become weak, overstretched, slow to work, too tight or torn. The first and most obvious way this occurs is in pregnancy and childbirth. Other less obvious causes include high impact exercise, high physical stress (being overweight, chronic coughing/sneezing), high emotional stress, chronic constipation, heavy or repeated lifting, genetics and menopause.
Symptoms of pelvic floor issues include:
- Urinary incontinence or frequency
- Fecal incontinence
- Pelvic organ prolapse
- Heaviness in the vagina, pelvis or rectum (like something is coming down)
- Pain (vaginal, abdominal or back)
- Lack of sensation during sex
- Pain during sex
- Symptoms similar to Cystitis (burning, itching, urgency)
What can I do if I am experiencing symptoms related to pelvic floor health?
Consulting a gynecologist, urologist, urogynecologist, or physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health is the best way to gauge your pelvic floor function.
At Vespertine Boutique, we understand that it can be hard to talk about these symptoms, but if you’re struggling you’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Health, more than one-third of American women suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction (that number likely ignores trans identities). Society often implies that reproductive anatomy and physiology is taboo, and many people are not raised talking openly about sexuality and reproductive health. We want to help people feel more comfortable talking about these important issues.
Many struggling with these symptoms may also benefit from mental health care. A study from the Medical University of Vienna found that there is significantly more shame and embarrassment around pelvic floor issues than there is around other conditions such as depression and cancer, and that as many as 30 percent of women with incontinence will also be depressed.
Are there any products that can help with pelvic floor health?
Many products that can help with pelvic floor issues, but we strongly recommend talking with a doctor or physical therapist before starting a new regimen. If you’ve been given a green light for a pelvic floor strengthening regimen, some of our favorite products include weights like these Kegal Balls from We-Vibe, and the premium Kegal weights exercise system from Intimate Rose.
For those experiencing a tight pelvic floor, we carry dilators by Intimate Rose — these dilators are firm enough to hold their shape, but are significantly smoother and more comfortable than dilators made of plastic. Dilators are an effective medical treatment for people with vulvas experiencing pelvic pain and pain during intercourse.
If you’d like to learn more about pelvic health and how to help alleviate symptoms, Vespertine Boutique recommends Restoring The Pelvic Floor for Women by Intimate Rose and Healing Painful Sex by Deborah Coady, MD and Nancy Fish, MSW/MPH.
This list wouldn’t be complete without one of our most popular products, and one we can’t seem to keep stocked in the shop for very long: Leakproof Brief by Proof. We believe all underwear should be made this way because occasional leaks happen! This brief has a classic fit that flatters all body types and offers moderate leak coverage to draw moisture away from your body — these will become a staple in your underwear drawer.
At Vespertine, we don’t claim to know the answers to all of your questions, but we are happy to help address issues that you and your healthcare provider have identified. Wellness includes all of us, all of our parts, physical and psychological.