Oh lord, yes! When your pelvic floor is too weak to do its job properly it is called hypotonic.
What are the signs that my pelvic floor muscles are too weak?
- Leaking urine: Do you leak some urine when you laugh, sneeze, jump or run?
- Peeing a lot: maybe you don’t leak but you feel like you constantly have to pee?
- Leaking poo: not very common.
- Pelvic floor prolapse (See our article on pelvic floor prolapses)
- Painful sex: Do you have little sensation or pleasure from sex?
- ‘Varting’ (‘yoga farting’) or ‘queefing’; farting from your vagina when you do yoga or stretch.
- Vaginal dryness: weak pelvic floor muscles combined with decreased levels of estrogen can cause dryness.
- Do you feel like the muscles of your pelvic floor can only do a couple of controlled pelvic floor exercises before they feel really tired?
- Do you feel like you can engage your pelvic floor, but if you had to release it slowly it would just flop?
How common is this?
Some people think that leaking urine after having children is normal, and that you just need to learn to live with it. But you don’t have to. Leaking urine is often the sign of a weak pelvic floor, and with treatment you can fix it.
It’s a common myth that everyone who has had a vaginal birth has a weak pelvic floor. This isn’t true! A vaginal birth can contribute to a weak pelvic floor, but it’s only one of many things that might contribute. Here are some others
- Supporting the weight of the uterus during pregnancy
- The pressure of extra weight if you are very overweight
- Chronic constipation and straining to poo
- Constant coughing
- Some forms of surgery that require cutting the muscles
- Lower levels of oestrogen after menopause
What can I do about it?
Pelvic floor exercises! These exercises are commonly recommended to start working out the muscles.
With regular pelvic floor exercises, the muscles will become stronger and as they strengthen you will get improved control over your bladder and bowel, and there is less chance you will leak.
How do I learn pelvic floor exercises?
The Jean Hailes website has good free resources. It has a podcast of a pelvic floor physiotherapist talking you through simple exercises for your pelvic floor. It also has videos to help you understand how your pelvic muscles work. Go here to find these resources.
It’s very important to do the exercises correctly though so that the right muscles are activated. If you feel like you need help with this you can go and see a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. They can give you exercises, biofeedback (electronic monitoring) and treat the muscles manually. They can also give you great advice about health, fitness, and good bladder and bowel habits.