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Improving pelvic floor - what did you do?

(37 Posts)
PelvicFlaws Sat 07-Sep-13 08:05:56

OK, name changed for this!

Disgracefully, first born DD's 2.6 now and I haven't done anything about it but I know my pelvic floor is weak and I'm worried I'm going to have trouble in the future. In my defence, I tore horifically and then my stitches tore again and I had to go around with an open wound (TMI alert - and yes, they couldn't do anything) for ages while it healed. It was so bloody depressing. Gah!

What can I do now? Anyone used any of those devices? The kegel excercising things? And would you recommend?


AndyMurraysBalls Sat 07-Sep-13 08:24:20

I have an appointment this Tues at my local hospital for this problem.

I had my DC's 17 and 14 years ago, so very different to you but possibly still relevant.

I am a runner and 3 months ago I was running very, very hard in a race I was really up for and I pissed myself. I actually lost control. I am still a bit shocked as you can tell.

Since then I have had some early menopause signs (I'm 44) and it seems to be that my weakness occurs at the same time as these signs.

I am so self-conscious and embarrassed and it is really affecting my life. I can't bear the idea of sex etc. The pissing has happened at another race too despite me doing pelvic floor exercises.

I did a bit of embarrassed online research and found an article that said that no woman should put up with this EVER. Back in the day, women just suffered and GP's still tend to say "well .... You've had 2 children ....... It's natural ......" NO NO NO.


So I didn't. I had to refuse to accept the above response (from a female GP and mother herself!!!!!!!) and insist on a referral.

I will not have my life ruined by this as so many others do. The GP actually suggested I cut back on my running!!!!! She even suggested that I only race when I don't get these symptoms? WTAF???????

"Sorry guys ... I can't represent the club this weekend. I'm having some peri-menopausal symptoms and I might piss myself at about 8 miles ......" Actually fuck the fuck off.

I am so angry that women are treated this way. It's my latest thing. Can you tell?

My advice would be to go to the GP and ask them to check you over to make sure there are no structural problems and then get advice. If you follow the advice and it doesn't help you DO NOT ACCEPT IT. GO BACK AND DEMAND FURTHER REFERRALS.

You must be much younger than me so get it sorted now.

PelvicFlaws Sat 07-Sep-13 09:07:19

Thanks Andy, gosh it sounds like a nightmare for you. Sorry to hear that, but it's good that you're not taking any more crap. Don't cut down on the running if that's what you clearly love!

I'm not too bad with it. No accidents or anything like that, it's just that if I need a wee, I don't have as much time to get to the loo as I used to. I'm aware that if I don't do anything about it now I'll suffer later. xx

NotInTheMood Sat 07-Sep-13 10:08:32

Watching with interest

fishybits Sat 07-Sep-13 10:14:13

Foo Foo Fun Club.

Don't know how to link on phone but started the 6 week course last week and already felt a difference. A pregnant (#2) friend finished the course a few weeks ago and says she's never felt as strong as she does now.

fishybits Sat 07-Sep-13 10:21:26

DameFanny Sat 07-Sep-13 10:27:13

You don't say if you're doing regular pelvic floor exercises or not? Do them, many times a day.

Also Pilates is amazing for your general core - the Darcy Bussell DVD is a good introduction.

Don't worry about devices til you've tried the above.

AndyMurraysBalls Sat 07-Sep-13 10:43:44

Thanks OP. Sorry to offload my tale of woe but I wanted to make sure that you don't just put up with it. It would be easy to ignore the signs when you are busy with young children, working, housework, gardening, shopping etc. Don't let it stop you living and loving life. Take action.

If they try to fob me off on Tuesday, they will regret it...... Ggggggrrrrrr.

AndyMurraysBalls Sat 07-Sep-13 10:48:57

I meant to add that my research has suggested that pelvic floor exercises do not help everybody. It depends on your internal structure and if and how you gave birth. That's why it's important to have a proper internal exam by a specialist.

I had 2 easy, natural births but DC2 was very quick. Until I am examined I don't know if there is any weakness there so the exercises might be useless.

There are different exercises for different problems as well as operations if they are required.

So many women out there don't do sport or enjoy life properly because they have what they think is normal and have to put up with it.

BigBoobiedBertha Sat 07-Sep-13 11:08:49

I too am watching with interest. My children are nearly 10 and 13 and I am 47 so I am more like AndyMurraysBalls than the Op (except for the running!) and there has been a definite deterioration in my pelvic floor in the last few years although it does trace back to having children.

I have, probably inconsistently, tried Kegel exercises but I am not convinced they ever work. I don't seem to be getting any obvious improvement. However, I don't think I am quite at the doctor stage just yet. If I get another bad cough/chest infection like I had 3 or 4 yrs ago I think I might have to go though. The coughing was bad but my pelvic floor held up OK to begin with but after a few weeks I was constantly having leaks and had to resort to Tenalady. blush. I suppose it shows some sort of resilience and ability to repair itself that I haven't had much trouble since. I have had one or two normal colds and not suffered at all unless I have to cough when my bladder is very full.

I can see it is likely to get worse rather than better so I shall read with interest what has worked for others. The foofoofunbox sounds interesting and the recommendation of pilates.

gybegirl Sat 07-Sep-13 11:12:48

Firstly - Do NOT do any impact exercise or heavy lifting until your pelvic floor has improved. Once you get a prolapse you have so many permenant restrictions. Improve it first then get back to normal activity (spoken from extremely extremey extremely bitter experienceangry).

Google Michelle Kenway. She's an Aussie physio who specialises in this. Her website is great Her pdf guide to exercising with a weak pelvic floor is well worth the cash and is the first, no let me correct myself, the ONLY guide which I have found which is a very positive, pro-active way of dealing with pf problems and exercise. After 12 months of searching for information I think I actually cried with relief when I found it. She's also on YouTube.

Kegel machines do help. However, I'm nickel intolerant so I have just ordered a gold plated one (which I find kind of hilariousgrin).

Get refers to a physio who specialises in pelvic floors - they are around.

Just a quick note on Pilates - if you have a pelvic floor problem you must have one foot on the floor at any one time. I do yoga and anything which folds me into a ball (child's pose or touching my toes is a no-no) but I just adjust the exercises to suit me.

Swimming, cycling (seated, not stood up on your pedals) and walking are all good, safe things to do in the meanwhile.

Good luck grin

gybegirl Sat 07-Sep-13 11:19:13

Just one last thing PelvicFlaws. I had a second degree tear but was told it would heal better if not stitched. So I followed my midwive's advice. It healed well but open. I'm so angry about this advice. It was beyond wrong. It lead to a considerably weakened pf which lead to a double prolapse.
I've actually now had a perineum repair carried out by a gyn horrified at my post birth treatment. Your healing sound the same so check whether this is required. Get a referral to an gyn from your doc. I think if I'd had the correct treatment and information I would be problem free. I has taken me a long time to be a peace with that.

PelvicFlaws Sat 07-Sep-13 11:47:51

Wow, thanks for advice. all. Will look into everything mentioned. Very helpful! I did pilates for 10 years before DD came along, so no stranger to it, but haven't since. Maybe it's time to go back.

gybegirl - it's frigging awful isn't it. I was so depressed about it. (although - TMI - mine was mainly at the top, so not so much of an issue re the perineum, but hey, why would a doctor be concerned about a split clitoris - that's just "cosmetic", FFS)

I'm not sure what'll happen if I have another DC and tear again. Maybe I'll get them to do a repair job!

Thanks again all. Much appreciated. thanks

PelvicFlaws Sat 07-Sep-13 11:51:49

Sorry - I should say, perineum sewn up too (natural tear) but not very er, tightly!

FloraFoxley Sun 08-Sep-13 07:34:47

Make sure you're your ideal weight. As soon as I reduced my weight to a normal weight all the issues I had had vanished
So it's worth bearing in mind if that's something you could address.

gussiegrips Sun 08-Sep-13 10:26:20

Swooping in with my superhero cape made out of tena pads on...

I'm a women's health physio, got some stats for you:

84% of simple stress incontinence can be cured in 5 physio sessions

70% cure with doing exercises on your own for three months.

a third of women aged 35-55 wet themselves. Most never seek help. That's a shame, you don't have to put up with this guff.

Do 3 exercises, 3 times a day for 3 months and then once a day, every day, until you die, or they stop working.

There's a difference between leaking when you cough/sneeze/jump and a frank loss of control when you run - that's an urgency problem. It can be helped by doing your exercises, but you might need to add in some behavioural stuff (like when you pee yourself because you've put the key in the door, long before you get near the loo).

there's some good evidence now showing that if you are wearing a sports bra you should have some internal support too. Things like, a silicone tampon. When you run there's 3x your body weight rattling through your pelvic floor - no wonder you pish yourself after a while.

Frequency is when you go "just incase" and land up training your bladder to hold less volume than it should. Peeing more than 8x a day or once at night is not normal.

Any sort of pishing yourself during activities or sex is not normal (unless your partner asks you very, very nicely, I suppose)

Yep, there are some people who shouldn't do kegels - a too tight pelvic floor can mimic a weak one. If you have pain during sex/can't use a tampon/get pelvic pain and wet yourself, you should get an assessment and, naturally, if doing the exercises hurt then you should stop and get an assessment.

There are a number of articles with huge hit rates on the web saying that kegels are guff and squats are good. This is not evidence based and should be ignored <gavel> Kegels are awesome, see the stats above. Science, see?

Prolapse can be a nasty old thing. but, it's very common, why, I have a grade 2 prolapse myself <preens>. Exercises can help, pessaries can help, not getting constipated etc helps - but, you should see a medic to grade it as there is a point of no return when you just need to get the whole thing wheeched back up in place. Get a referral.

I teach 3 basic exercises:

hold 10 secs
10 quick flicks
up 3 floors and back down

So, imagine you are going to let rip a huge, stinky fart - and, you are on a date with someone you really fancy and you don't want to horrify them. THat squeezing round your bumhole is you working your pelvic floor. Hold 10 secs.

If you can't feel it, lie on your tummy (takes the effect of gravity away)

If you still can't feel it, bung something into your fanjo and squeeze it (nothing wooden incase of splinters. Usually we recommend a finger, but it doesn't need to be your finger...)

If you still can't feel it - get a referral.

10 quick flicks - contract/relax/contract/relax etc

3 floors - imagine you've got a lift in your vagina, take it to the first, second and third floors and then back down again. It is a bit odd, but it makes you use the muscles at the front instead of just the ones round your bumhole, and that's important. Try to control the "lift" on the way back down, or you'll kill the Borrowers who are going up for reasons unclear.

10, 10, 3, 3x a day, 3 months.

follow me on twitter - @gussiegrips, when I tweet, you twitch your twinkle. Otherwise, you'll forget.

I've got a very amateurish website (linkie on my profile, don't want to fall foul of advertising, though, i'm not selling anything...yet, but I do need to turn this into some sort of job!) with further info.

I'd like MN to run this as a campaign - it's shockingly common, easily fixed and yet we don't talk about it. I've just turned this stuff into a comedy show and run it at the Edinburgh Fringe, went well <curtseys> and i'm hoping to use that to break down the taboos surrounding it.

Essentially - try the exercises. They are boring. But, they bloody well work <ask me how I know> and, being in control of your bladder will change your life.

PM me if you have questions, I'm happy to help. And, we should get MN to run this as a campaign, seriously, it makes people so utterly miserable. (a third of people with incontinence are also clinically depressed - obviously, it doesn't make you feel very good about yourself)

Oh, and I've not seen the dvd on foofoo funbox (keep asking her for a sample, I'm not bloody buying it if I'm going to be recommending it to patients!) but it does look sound. She's not a physio, but the exercises look ok from what I've seen on the web. However, if you do the 10,10,3 you will get better - science, see? Free, too.

Don't put up with it. You really, truly, don't have to.

right, go and #doyerblardyexercises. Right now. Go on.

PelvicFlaws Sun 08-Sep-13 11:28:51

Gussiegrips I love you. Thank you SO much for your post. And yes, great idea for MN to make a campaign out of this!

Luckily, the only leaky accident I ever had was when DD was about five days old and I saw a rat (!) but what you say about the 'just-in-case' wees training your bladder to hold less has hit home - I do that. Damn!

I am doing the exercises as I type.

thanks thanks thanks

Roshbegosh Sun 08-Sep-13 16:06:28

Gussie I can't find the link to your website on your profile. Struggling with the 'lift' one but thanks for the great advice x

BigBoobiedBertha Sun 08-Sep-13 16:38:09

Thank you gussiegrips. That was really useful. I just thought the Kegels were the hold for 10 secs one and maybe the flicky ones but I suppose I have come unstuck in the number of times you are supposed to do it, how regularly and how long you are supposed to keep it up for to get results. When I was pregnant I was told or read that you should do Kegels regularly but it was all a bit vague.

I have a couple of things I want to clarify if you don't mind.

1. Are you saying you need to do 10 of the 10 sec ones per session? (I am assuming that is what the 10,10 and 3 x3 bit means but it is Sunday afternoon and my brain is mushy).

2. When I do the flicky ones, it feels like I never properly relax on the relax bit. Does that matter? Am I perhaps going to fast? Oh and when you say 10 of those is that 10 contractions and 10 relaxations which I think I might struggle with at the moment or 5 of each which I can just about do without ending up bobbing up down in my seat rather than actually contracting and relaxing my undercarriage. blush I think my buttocks take over at about 6 of each when my pelvic floor gets tired.grin

I have been thinking about my post and yours and I definitely have stress incontinence not helped by the fact that I sometimes don't go to the loo often enough. I leave it and leave it, sometimes for hours and then wonder why my knickers are damp. hmm

And one final question, how do you know if you have a prolapse?

Janek Sun 08-Sep-13 16:48:11

Good questions, i too am awaiting the answers!

gussiegrips Mon 09-Sep-13 13:17:01 (hope it's ok to post it, I'm not really advertising!)

The basic exercises I use are:
1. one single squeeze for a count of 10 seconds
2. one lot of ten quick flicks in a row
3. lift to the first, second and third floors and then lower back down.

Yep, you need to relax inbetween each exercise - that's really important. You should feel a "drop" down into your knickers as you relax - and if you can feel your buttocks working stop at that point and build it up. It's really common for your PF to get weary when you start, it'll get there with practice. If you can't do it properly, stop and rest. Do the flicks at a "on for a second, off for a second" pace - and you're better doing 5 good ones than 10 guff ones. And, it's ten contractions in a row.

Remember that 1:3 women have SI, it's really common - and not running to the loo is good, but you dont' want to wait until your bladder is absolutely full either. Peeing about 250 - 300ml is great, waiting until it's a 500ml job isn't. Should you feel like getting technical about it and getting a measuring jug out, feel free...

Prolapse symptoms:
a bulge
leaking pee
difficulty pooing
a dragging sensation "down below"
painful sex/using a tampon
tends to be worse as the day goes on/your monthy cycle changes

Easiest thing to do is get a mirror, stand up and have a look. If you can see anything in the vaginal opening then, yep, you've probably got a bit of a prolapse. Of course, that depends on you knowing what your bits look like int he first place, and most some of us have never had a good peer down there. If you do have a prolapse it's important to get good information about managing it becaue you can manage a minor one conservatively.

IT really bothers me that this information is given out in a vague fashion. the research is solid - if you do 10, 10, 3 for 3 months, you'll get better. If you do it once a day, you'll prevent prolapse. I'm kind of on my high horse and going to do some research into trying to bust the taboo and get the information out into the public domain - it's so common, and so easily fixed, and yet, not really properly addressed by anyone. <footstamp>

You'll forget though - so, either set your phone to ring, or follow me on twitter. I'm quite a good nag.

Do ask questions. I'm a fanjo evangelist and have bored everyone in earshot of me...

AndyMurraysBalls Mon 09-Sep-13 14:55:51

Hi Gussie.
Apologies to the OP because I feel like I'm hijacking.

I'm confident I don't have a prolapse. I have been doing the exercises and the running problem occurs around the first day of my period (which are erratic and unpredictable). Is it a menopause thing?

Since my last post I have sustained a bad injury because I am not running normally because I am constantly worrying about pissing. Someone at the club actually asked me why I am running differently and well ...... What can you say to a 25 year old man who is trying to help you get a PB? I don't want him to think I am that old woman on Little Britain.

I have the hospital appointment tomorrow and I want results and solutions. Am I expecting too much?

AndyMurraysBalls Mon 09-Sep-13 14:59:27

I should add, I am definitely not overweight (9 stone at 5 foot 4) and otherwise extremely healthy. Crap eyesight doesn't count.

BlueChampagne Mon 09-Sep-13 15:19:01

Got my exercises from and so far am in Gussiegrips' 70%.

gussiegrips Mon 09-Sep-13 17:41:35

Andy - yep, hormonal changes can affect continence and could, potentially, give you a sudden pishy episode when you are otherwise fine.

Certainly, the menopause is when many people (who have previously never had a problem) will present.

Running differently isn't going to get you a PB. I'm looking at doing some research into runners using silicone pessaries - It's got good science behind it, and it works (ask me how I know, gets me through a zumba class) - but, it's not commonly used, mainly, I think, because we don't talk about it.

Many, many female runners use tampons as internal support - incostress is better.

Hospital should screen you for UTI (most common cause of sudden pishieness), so take a sample with you. No leaking at any other time?

Do your exercises, and don't panic - there's loads and loads that can be helpful. Certainly, the worst thing to do now is start piddling more often just incase.

Remember, there's 3x your body weight rattling into your pelvic floor with every single running step. So, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that's quite a lot of impact over the course of an hour's run. THis is why every single lady runner you see has a wee sweatshirt tied round her waist...

Let me know how you get on, I'm interested in whether they'd offer you urodynamic testing on the history of one episode.

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