You know it’s time to address your pelvic floor when you step out of the pool, and it feels like your waters just broke.
At 45, I thought I had my pelvic floor all stitched up. I mean, I did enough bloody exercise to make it so; or so I thought. It felt tight, didn’t embarrass me during sex, was strong enough to hold my bladder at bay so I didn’t miss the climactic points at the cinema, and only (on the very odd occasion) let me down during a hay fever attack, but yeah, that one pool moment I had (over a decade ago), was a harsh wake up call.
Thank God there were no witnesses.
Loss of pelvic control has happened to a lot of us, and it’s not a nice thing to experience at any age.
Many women reading this will be either smiling, laughing, or crying as they read this – most likely a combination of all three – because whether we like it or not, this unsung part of our female anatomy does take a beating during life, and every woman can relate to it in her own way. Every single one will have some story to tell about the failure of their own pelvic floor, although few may be willing to share it, and after years of sexual activity, miscarriages and/or terminations, pregnancies, and giving birth to big or multiple babies, at some point, yours is going to demand attention if you don’t pay enough during your youth. And tragically, many women are damaged downstairs because of domestic abuse, drug abuse, botched surgeries, postural anomalies, and possibly bad genetics as well.
So, what exactly is the pelvic floor, and how do we make sure it’s functioning happily so we can hop, skip, and jump during our days (and nights), without fear of having unanticipated fluids ruin the moment?
When you look at the structure of the pelvic floor, it weaves around the vagina and the anus and crosses over at the perineum point to form an invisible infinity symbol. I liken this to the number eight also, connected to intuition and our divine lioness power, and have taught my yoga students for years how to engage it with posture and breath work so they can feel strong in their bodies and their minds; for the pelvic floor energetically connects you from roots to crown.
Anatomically, the pelvic floor is a funnel-shaped structure. It attaches to the walls of the lesser pelvis (the urogenital and anal triangle) and separates the pelvic cavity from the perineum below. It has two “gaps” in it to allow for urination (urogenital hiatus) and defecation (rectal hiatus). Between the urogenital hiatus and the anal canal lies a fibrous node known as the perineal body, which joins the pelvic floor to the perineum.
By all accounts the pelvic floor is a diaphragm, and we have several, not just the lung one.
The first one, going up the body from the feet, is the feet themselves, or rather, the soles to be specific. Then we go to the pelvic bowl and the musculature of the pelvic floor, sometimes referred to as a sling. After that we encounter the diaphragm in the rib cage that assists with breathing and digestion, and the final one is the palate or roof of the mouth. This one connects with the higher frequencies of our etheric body and our sacred voice but is also intimately acquainted with the other three.
Diaphragms are traditionally designed to not just contract and expand, but also to lift. They generate their own energetic cycle and therefore, create mini vortices within the body, ones that serve to activate the immediate area they are in, but also to influence the function of the other diaphragms.
Now, if your pelvic floor is weakened from successive pregnancies and births, especially if they were close together and you had little to no time to adjust and recover before conceiving again, there are several inconvenient ailments on the cards for you, including the most well-known one, incontinence, both bladder and anal. A week PFM also contributes to loss of libido, sexual discomfort and sexual dysfunction, strain on the abdomino-pelvic, piriformis, and pubic-coccygeal muscles, plus discomfort and postural misalignment during pregnancy.
Men can also suffer from pelvic floor pain and prolapse and naturally, the symptoms and severity of, will differ quite a bit. But let’s stick to girls talk for now.
When I first started my journey of body awareness and self-healing and learning all about energy, how it works, what it can do, and what my own gifts were, I naturally intuited the pelvic floor to be connected to our umbilical cord – energetically that is – and that as an earth cord, it has the potential (and power) to ground or uproot, as well as nourish or deplete us. It’s a muscle, just like any other in your body, therefore it needs to be worked if it is to perform correctly, and if it isn’t, then we will suffer the consequences down the line. Use it or lose it, literally.
I think as women, mothers, and grandmothers, we haven’t impressed the importance of a healthy pelvic floor to our daughters, nearly enough.
Older generations tended to suffer in silence, unaware that their loose stools, digestive issues, loss of appetite (both food and sex), and bouts of depression along with candida (thrush) and UTI’s (urinary tract infections), were all expressions of an unhappy and therefore unhealthy, pelvic floor. But nobody talked about those things openly and so the problem grew behind the tight-lips and closed doors of suburbia, that is, until the 60’s hit and most of society cast self-consciousness aside with gay (and heterosexual) abandon.
Nowadays, we have adverts showing women alongside “they/them’s” sporting bloodied panties and over-sharing about their preferred practice of inserting tampons into alternative orifices to prove that they too, have a vagina. With such vain (and physically invasive) attempts to prove “men have periods too”, it’s no wonder our pelvic floors are f**ked.
In fact, I would even suggest that humanity’s pelvic floor is also verging on collapse.
Did you know you can breathe through your pelvic floor? Well, not for real, obviously, but if you focus your attention during meditation and draw in and up from the earth as you inhale and squeeze down and back out through that invisible conduit on the exhale, you can quickly establish a powerful tether that will serve to nourish your physical cells as equally as your spiritual energy. You can recharge yourself, and over time, slowly develop strength and resilience in the overall musculature.
If you’re unsure what constitutes pelvic floor care, here are ten foolproof tips to get you on the road to reproductive resilience.
1. Don’t force or push down when on the toilet. Prolapse is a b*tch.
2. Eat clean and green, drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, and fast intermittently.
3. Maintain a healthy weight to reduce downward pressure on the PFM.
4. Activate the pelvic floor before lifting anything heavy. Bend zee knees!
5. Practice good posture and be aware of how you stand, for example, weight evenly through both feet, don't slouch, and avoid spending hours glued to devices.
6. Exercise your pelvic floor but also learn how to relax it. Believe it or not, “hypertonic” (too tight) PFM’s, can cause bladder problems, random pelvic pain, pain during sex, and even childbirth complications, all things nobody wants to experience, I’m sure.
7. Wear light sanitary protection in case you’re feeling vulnerable; unexpected emotional shifts can trigger pelvic floor responses.
8. Be sensible when it comes to sex toys, jade eggs, and "experimenting". Your PFM may be capable of stretching to birth a baby, but she is by nature, a sensitive creature.
9. See a PFM specialist who will assess yours and devise a specific exercise routine for you.
10. Love your bits, ladies. Do regular yoni steams, self-massage, bathe with herbs, honor your divine feminine self, connect with nature to anchor your umbilical/yoni “power point” into the Mother Womb, and in general, just pamper your inner sanctum as often as you can.
Pelvic floor health is all about giving, receiving, and loving.
About allowing yourself to soften enough to plug in and receive, and contained and resilient enough so you don’t “leak” – or waste valuable energy – on any level of your being.
So, next time you’re out at the public pool or pumping out your best Salutes to the Sun at the front of the class, spare a moment to tune into your pelvic floor and ask if there’s anything she needs you to do. And don’t be afraid to get help.
Let’s make trampoline envy a thing of the past, sisters!