Do you clam up a bit when people talk about health? Then you’re not alone. Not everyone finds it easy to discuss health issues, even with their best friends or doctors. Whether that’s mental health or physical health, sometimes talking about pain points can be a pain point in itself. So it’s hardly surprising that people are reluctant to talk about pelvic floor health. It’s all a bit intimate, you might even have to say the word vagina out loud. At Elvie, there’s nothing we’re too shy to talk about. In fact, we’ll say vagina hundreds of times if we have to. So today, we’re encouraging you to spread the word about pelvic floor health.
Wondering why it’s important? Simply put, learning about pelvic floor health can help treat the issue. The Journal of Gynecology Obstetrics and Human Reproduction set about to prove that education alone can help with pelvic floor health. Their study of 79 women involved four educational classes before doing any pelvic floor muscle training and the results suggest that sessions can improve symptoms and quality of life before any pelvic floor muscle reinforcement itself. If these results are confirmed by larger prospective studies, it will be clear that a solid educational element should be integrated into all pelvic floor training programs.
Why is talking about pelvic floor health so important?
It’s super common. Pelvic floor disorders affect about 10% of women aged 20 to 39 (and that figure increases after childbirth – YAY), 27% of women aged 40 to 59, 37% of women aged 60 to 79, and nearly 50% of women aged 80 or older.
It's not only women who suffer. Men often face pelvic floor issues, too.
You might think it’s all about pee, but fecal incontinence can be improved too.
Having a stronger pelvic floor can improve your sex life too. And if we’re honest with ourselves, who doesn’t want better orgasms?
Some good snippets worth sharing
You’re out for a coffee and a friend hints at bladder control issues. Instead of awkwardly changing the subject, confront the matter face-on. Armed with some of these invaluable pieces of advice, you’ll be ready to impart some pelvic floor wisdom. A pelvic floor fairy godmother.
How to check you're doing it right – insert a finger into your vagina and contract your muscles. Keep abs, buttocks, and thighs relaxed. You could also use a pelvic floor trainer like Elvie Trainer which gives real-time feedback and avoids any of the common Kegel mistakes that people make.
Don't over-exercise your pelvic floor muscles, you definitely don't want fatigue down there.
Once you’ve nailed your pelvic floor exercises you can use single contractions during times you’re likely to leak. Like when you’re sneezing or at the gym.
It’s a man’s issue, too
Men often find it even harder to talk about intimate health issues than women, so lots of men probably don’t even know that they should be doing pelvic floor exercises, too. Men can check they’re doing it right by clenching the same muscles they would to stop peeing, or inserting a finger into the rectum and clenching without tensing other areas. Now, we’re not suggesting you walk around parties telling guys to try popping fingers in their butts to start a conversation, but there are certain ways you can broach the subject that will make it way less awkward.
How to talk about pelvic floor health
You should be able to say vagina and rectum in the company of friends without blushing faces, but let’s be realistic here. People find it hard to talk about things like this, so broach the subject sensitively. If you want to discuss it with a friend, choose a quiet moment when you won’t fear being overheard. Car journeys and walks are good for intimate conversations because you don’t have to look the other person in the eye which can make you feel more confident.
Most importantly, remember why you’re talking about it. Discussing pelvic floor health openly and learning about Kegel exercises has been proven to help with symptoms. And if one slightly awkward conversation with a friend will help you or them, then it’s surely worth it.