Want to Avoid Unexpected Bladder Leaks – Try to Relax
If you’re feeling a little more stressed these days, you are not alone. Safe to say that this past year has been a mess this past year, and many people are feeling the effects of the additional stress. April is stress awareness month, which got us thinking about the link between stress and your pelvic health. There is a connection, and knowing more about it can help you improve your pelvic health to avoid issues like unexpected bladder leaks, pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic pain. If you’ve experienced our Libby Chair Pelvic Therapy, understanding the impact of stress can help you maintain the beneficial effects after treatment is complete.
Your Pelvis is Full Of Muscle
Your pelvic floor muscles consist of muscles that attach at the coccyx (tailbone) to the pubic bone and the ischial tuberosities (sits bones). These muscles provide support for your pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum. The pelvic muscles also work to prevent urinary and fecal incontinence, assist in the functioning of the lymphatic system, contribute to sexual function and are part of our inner abdominal core unit.
Stress Manifests in Many Ways
Many of us are familiar with the ways in which stress can manifest itself. Disrupting your sleep, causing headaches, disrupting your digestion and making you crave comfort foods. Stress can contribute to a general feeling of anxiety, even if you don’t know exactly what you are anxious about. However, stress can also influence your muscles, making them tense and unable to relax. Some people feel this in their shoulders or neck, others in their gut or back, and still others in their pelvic floor.
Tight pelvic floor muscles describe a condition known as a hypertonic pelvic floor. Hypertonic muscles are too tight and are not able to return to a relaxed state. This can lead to pelvic dysfunction such, pain, urinary incontinence or urgency and constipation.
When Relaxation is Difficult
Consciously contracting and relaxing your pelvic muscles can be more difficult than you think. In fact, many women who faithfully do their Kegel exercises are not doing them optimally because voluntary control over those pelvic muscles is difficult to teach and achieve. Many women are already holding too much tension in these muscles. If the muscle is already contracted, there is nowhere to contract further. Learning to let go is key. One way to help encourage muscle relaxation (throughout your entire body) is to practice diaphragmatic breathing. This is an excellent coping strategy for stress in general and can take tension out of your pelvic floor. Diaphragmatic breathing helps
reduce the production of the stress-inducing hormone cortisol. As cortisol levels drop, the body and all of its muscles begin to return to a more restful state, if only for a short time.
When you have a few moments to yourself, lie down and take a few slow breaths into your lower ribs. See if you can determine whether your pelvic muscles are letting go or lengthening with you inhale. Then challenge yourself to maintain an awareness of your pelvic floor over the next few hours or days. If you notice the muscles contracting, can you relax them with purposeful deep breaths?
When Do You Need Help?
Pelvic dysfunction takes many shapes and forms, including pelvic organ prolapse and several forms of urinary incontinence. Stress is not the only cause, but it can be one of the factors affecting pelvic health. Proper nutrition, getting adequate amounts of sleep, engaging in mindfulness practices and other stress relief techniques may help maintain or improve your pelvic and overall health. However, there are also treatment options available to quickly and comfortably resolve hypertonic pelvic muscles. Talk to a pelvic floor physiotherapist or pelvic health expert about treatments such as Emsella. It uses electromagnetic energy to stimulate and rebalance hypertonic pelvic muscles. Find out more about how Emsella works, and learn about our Libby Chair Pelvic Therapy which incorporates Emsella, along with education and support for lifestyle changes that can free you from the effects of pelvic floor dysfunction.
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