Did you know that both men and women can struggle with keeping their pelvic floor muscles strong? As you age, these muscles naturally weaken, reducing support to your bladder and bowel, as well as your uterus if you’re a woman.
The good news is that you can take back control of your pelvic floor by taking a few simple steps. Our regenerative medicine specialists at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Arlington, Virginia, specialize in age management, a branch of health care dedicated to slowing the aging process.
Keep reading to learn how you can keep this important set of muscles strong no matter your age!
Your pelvic floor is the group of muscles and ligaments at the bottom of your pelvis that support your bladder, bowel, and uterus (in women). The pelvic floor muscles and ligaments support babies through pregnancy and play an important role in sexual health for both men and women.
The pelvic floor also helps you control your bladder and bowel, keeping urine and feces in place until you’re ready. Contracting the pelvic floor muscles lifts the internal organs and tightens the openings of your anus, urethra, and vagina.
Like other muscles and ligaments in your body, the pelvic floor typically weakens as you age. Other factors can contribute to a weak pelvic floor, including:
Heavy lifting or engaging in high-impact exercises or exercises that involve jumping can also increase your risk of developing a weakened pelvic floor.
When these muscles weaken, you can develop issues with them that affect your health. Some signs of a weak pelvic floor to look for include:
A weak pelvic floor can also cause constipation.
Many people experience a weak pelvic floor, so you’re not alone. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you suspect this condition. In the meantime, here are our top tips for strengthening your pelvic floor:
Both men and women can perform Kegel exercises, which involve tightening and relaxing the muscles that control your urine flow. Sit in a comfortable position, then tighten the muscles just like you would if you need to urinate but can’t get to the bathroom.
Hold this position for five seconds, then release the muscles and rest. Repeat the exercise up to 10 times each session. As your muscles get stronger, work at holding the contraction for longer periods and performing more repetitions.
The squeeze-and-release exercise targets the same muscles as Kegel exercises, and it uses the same contract-and-release format. Instead of holding the contraction, however, your goal is to squeeze and release as quickly and strongly as you can in a set period of time.
Begin by performing the exercise for 10 seconds at a time. Take a rest, then repeat up to 20 times, two times a day.
If you suffer from a chronic cough or chronic constipation, it’s important to meet with your provider to get these conditions under control. If you smoke, quit smoking. And be sure to eat lots of fiber and drink plenty of fluids to avoid constipation.
You’ll also want to be sure you don’t strain or push during bowel movements or when urinating, and try not to sit on the toilet for too long as this weakens the sphincter.
Weighing more than you should adds pressure to your pelvic floor, weakening it at a faster rate and making it more difficult to strengthen the muscles. Switch to a balanced, whole foods diet centered on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.
When left untreated, a weak pelvic floor can lead to more serious symptoms and conditions, like vaginal prolapse in women. The providers at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists can make sure you’re performing your pelvic floor exercises properly and make recommendations for additional exercises if needed.
We also address any underlying issues or lifestyle habits that impact the health of your pelvic floor. If you’re still struggling with painful sex, urinary incontinence, or other side effects of a weak pelvic floor, your provider may recommend other therapies.
Learn more about supporting your pelvic floor by scheduling an appointment over the phone or online at Interventional Pain and Regenerative Medicine Specialists in Northern Virginia.